Thursday, September 03, 2009

TGIF - Beware of Mixture

This is especially important today, when hostility to traditional Christianity is being mixed with the notion equality of all ideas and the redefinition of all religious terms, it can be difficult for the Christian to sort out just where the mixture is entering into their lives.


Beware of Mixture
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman
09-02-2009

"Then they said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt'" (Ex 32:4).

Moses had gone up onto Mount Sinai to meet with God and receive the Ten Commandments. He left his brother Aaron in charge. Aaron had been mentored by his brother Moses. However, we learn that Aaron still has vestiges of Egypt residing in him. He had not had a complete conversion from the ways of Egypt to the ways of God. His leadership was not strong enough to thwart a rebellion in the camp and he allowed the people, and even encouraged the people, to make an idol of gold. Later, he tried to justify his actions by saying the idol was a God of Israel.

Today we see such mixture in the body of Christ. We promote guaranteed prosperity without the cross. We call adversity a sign of a lack of faith. We promote New Age philosophies mixed with the scriptures and call it a new freedom in Christ. This is only mixture. It is an abomination to the Lord.

And because Aaron has mixture in his own life, he was unable to be truthful to Moses when confronted with his actions. "He said to Aaron, 'What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?' So I told them, 'Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.' Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!'" (Ex 32:21-24).

Did you notice Aaron's explanation? Out came this calf! - all by itself. Aaron attempted to deceive Moses. Aaron failed to fulfill his role as a strong, Godly leader. He allowed "mixture" to have power over the people of God.

Pray that you will be faithful to the Word of God and not allow new philosophies to distort its ageless truths.

Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit http://www.marketplaceleaders.org/

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Why we need a Parental Rights Amendment

From ParentalRights.org

Your freedom to raise your children
with your own faith and worldview is under attack
from outside our country, and from within.

♦ A New Hampshire mom has been forbidden to
home school because her daughter holds “too
firmly” to her religious beliefs.

♦ Several Boston-area school districts have rules on
what food parents can or cannot include in their
child’s lunch.

♦ National governments around the world are being
pressured to outlaw modest spanking as discipline
in the home, regardless of what voters would
choose.

♦ The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of
the Child contains threats to parental rights and national
sovereignty. One expert writes, “[The] best
interests [principle] provides decision and policy
makers with the authority to substitute their own
decisions for either the child’s or the parents’.”

This is not just in divorce courts. This is for any decision.


Call your legislators and tell them you support a parental rights amendment and oppose the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is time to stop pretending this stuff is no big deal. Our freedom to decide how to raise our children is at stake. Ignorance is no excuse.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thoughts From A Conservative Mom: Sweden outlaws home schooling

Here is a sobering article following up on yesterday's post.

Thoughts From A Conservative Mom: Sweden outlaws home schooling

So much for those who are thinking that the UNCRC is not going to be a problem for the US.

Just because you are not homeschooling does not mean that teams of government bureaucrats will not be able to override your every decision if they deem it not in "the best interests of the child."

Do you REALLY want someone else telling you what is best for your children?

Parents, oppose ratification of this treaty with every breath, or risk losing the right to direct the upbringing of your children.

Including their education.

Including their spiritual development, or lack thereof.

A lot of parents don't care about that because they think that will only affect those crazy Christians who hate the "godless" schools and want to establish a Theocracy on earth. "Good riddance," they are thinking. "We could do with less religion in the world."

Atheist parent, do you want the government to tell you that you are required to take your child to church if he wants to go?

Muslim parent, do you want the government to tell you that you must allow your child to convert to Judaism if that is what she desires?

That's what I thought.

This affects everyone.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

No More Parental rights? The Threat is Real

Even as I am writing this, activists are gathering in Washington DC to rally in support of the ratification UNCRC (UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). It has been suggested that there will be an attempt by supporters in Congress to pass "ambush legislation" - that is, to rush through the ratification of this international treaty without getting the support of the American People.

The last few days and weeks should tell you that Congress does not give a damn about the support or desires of the American People.

  • Ordinary Americans who do not support Obamacare have been vilified and mocked in the press and by legislators themselves as some sort of insurance industry shills and (God forbid) right-wing crackpots.
  • Yesterday the White House directed the Justice Department to file court papers claiming the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act discriminates against homosexuals, even though the Justice Department lawyers have been arguing that it is constitutional, and an infringement on the rights of taxpayers in the 30 states that specifically prohibit same-sex marriages.

Parentalrights.org observes:

Under the UNCRC, instead of following due process, government agencies would have the power to override your parental choices at their whim because they determine what is in "the best interest of the child."

In essence, the UNCRC applies the legal status of abusive parents to all parents. This means that the burden of proof falls on the parent to prove to the State that they are good parents—when it should fall upon the State to prove that their investigation is not without cause.
It should insult you that this treaty will consider you an abusive parent unless you are able to prove otherwise. This sets a dangerous precedent that undermines our legal status as "innocent until proven guilty."

For those who cannot believe that parental rights are endangered by this treaty, but here are a couple of examples of cases where judges decided against parents without the treaty. We are not talking about parents who are abusive and dangerous themselves. There are already laws on the books dealing with those. We are talking about judicial activism and a culture that increasingly devalues parents and seeks to place control of our children, if not with the state, anywhere but with us.

From www.parentalrights.org

A West Virginia mother was shocked when a local circuit judge and a family court judge ordered her to share custody of her four-year-old daughter with two of the girl’s babysitters. Referring to the sitters as "psychological co-parents," the justices first awarded full custody to them, only permitting the mother to visit her daughter four times a week at McDonalds. Eventually she was granted primary custody, but forced to continue to share her daughter with the sitters.

When her case finally reached the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals in October 2007, the beleaguered mother was relieved to finally be granted full custody of her daughter.

In their October 25 opinion Supreme Court justices wrote that they were "deeply troubled by the utter disregard" for the mother's rights. One justice referred to the mother’s right as the “paramount right in the world."

Chief Justice Robin Davis summed up the case in one simple question."Why does a natural parent have to prove fitness when she has never been found unfit?" he asked. (
In Re: Visitation and Custody of Senturi N.S.V., 221 W.Va. 159, 652 S.E. 2d 490 (2007))
Excuse me? With the girl's BABYSITTERS?? Does modern contempt for all things traditional or parental know no bounds? How about this one:

From www.parentalrights.org

The case involved 13-year-old Sheila Marie Sumey, whose parents were alarmed when they found evidence of their daughter's participation in illegal drug activity and escalating sexual involvement. Their response was to act immediately to cut off the negative influences in their daughter's life by grounding her.

But when Sheila went to her school counselors complaining about her parent's actions, she was advised that she could be liberated from her parents because there was "conflict between parent and child." Listening to the advice she had received, Sheila notified Child Protective Services (CPS) about her situation. She was subsequently removed from her home and placed in foster care.

Her parents, desperate to get their daughter back, challenged the actions of the social workers in court. They lost. Even though the judge found that Sheila's parents had enforced reasonable rules in a proper manner, the state law nevertheless gave CPS the authority to split apart the Sumey family and take Sheila away.
(In Re: Sumey, 94 Wn. 2d 757, 621 P. 2d 108 (1980))
Did you catch the date on that last one? That was almost 30 years ago! Do you really think that judges have become more traditional since then? The battle has escalated alarmingly in just the few months since Obama was elected.

I know these last few posts do not deal directly with home business, but they do deal directly with homeschooling. Home schooling is already being restricted in other countries, notably in the UK, precisely because of provisions of this treaty. But even if you are not a homeschooler, if you have children and believe that you know better how to raise them than the state does, you should be afraid.

Very afraid.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Let's Look A Little Deeper at the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child



Here is an outstanding piece that goes into more detail about exactly what is wrong with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

I will not elaborate but urge you to go now and check this out. You may be shocked to realize how any rights YOU have to direct the upbringing of your child will be affected. This is not only, as she says, about "Christians and nutty homeschoolers" who oppose this. If you are a parent, you should oppose this.

Contact your legislators immediately.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Call Now to Stop UN Children’s Treaty

Monday in a Harlem middle school, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told a group of 120 students that administration officials are actively discussing “when and how it might be possible to join” (that is, ratify) the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). As before, she also communicated what a disgrace it is that the U.S. would stand with only Somalia against such a widely accepted treaty.

This is the first direct public statement by the Obama administration that it will seek ratification of the UN CRC.

In my 30 years of political involvement, I have learned to recognize this as what is called a “trial balloon.” Like in World War I trench warfare, our opponents have “sent up a balloon” to see if it will draw fire. If things remain quiet, they will proceed with their plans to push for ratification of the CRC in the U.S. Senate. To discourage them from doing so, we need to make sure that our voices are heard with unmistakable clarity. We must let the Obama administration know that we oppose this anti-family, anti-American treaty.

Action

Here’s what we need you all to do:

1. Call the White House comments line at 202-456-1111. Tell them you heard the administration wants to ratify the CRC, and you strongly oppose this giving away of U.S. sovereignty to the UN. Also, keep in mind that this treaty gives the government jurisdiction to override any decision made by any parent if the government thinks that a better decision can be made—even if there is no proof of any harm.

2. Call the Ambassador Susan Rice’s office at the United Nations. Tell her that you want her to represent the United States to the world rather than trying to get the United States to go along with international law initiated by the UN. Her office number is 212-415-4000.

3. Contact your senators and urge them to oppose ratification of this treaty. (Find your senators’ contact information by using HSLDA’s Legislative Toolbox.) Ask them also to defeat it once and for all by cosponsoring SJRes 16—the Parental Rights Amendment.

It is very important that we speak up right now. Please call before you close this email!

Michael Farris
HSLDA Chairman

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Better than Seven Daughters

"He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth." Ruth 4:15

A son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter's a daughter the rest of her life. - Irish Proverb


Ruth was declared to be of enormous value to her mother-in-law - "better than seven sons", a staggering claim in the ancient world where many sons were a badge of honor. But beyond the status and honor that accrued to a family with many sons, everyone knew then as they surely know now, it is most often daughters who have the longer lasting, intense bond with their mothers

Many families have seen one or the other of these sayings to be true. I have seen more women maintain closer bonds than men to their family of origin. I can remember the difference between the relationships my mother and aunt had with my grandmother and the relationship my uncle had with her. For all the jokes that are made about the relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in law, there have been many wonderful examples of in-law friends. My own mother was my very best friend, and my mother-in-law was right up there at the top of my list as well.

But I have a son who is better than seven daughters.

I say that not to demean my own daughter, but to confer upon my son the honor that he deserves as a particularly loving and considerate son, and a clever and funny friend.

When he was just a little boy, there was a little girl who was madly in love with him and pursued him for several years. She finally gave up after concluding that "he was just too attached to his mommy."

I don't know if that is still true. I don't think so, but I may not be the best judge of that. I do know that he never went through that phase where he was embarrassed to be seen with Mom or Dad in public. He has no frame of reference for the scenes in movies and on television where the kid walks ten paces ahead of his parents, belittles them in front of his friends, or would rather walk home than be seen riding with Mom. And he is eighteen.

Today.

This week I will be celebrating my son, remembering his childhood and thanking God for the young man he has become.

Happy birthday, Buddy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

TGIF Perception is NOT Reality

Perception Is Not Reality
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
Sunday, June 14 2009


"The lions may roar and growl, yet the teeth of the great lions are broken." - Job 4:10

In the advertising business we often say that "perception is reality" for the person who views our advertising message. It does not matter whether the audience believes the message to be true, only that they perceive it to be true. Their actions will be the same whether they believe it or only perceive it.

The enemy of our souls is very good at this game. He may bring on us what we perceive to be true when it is a lie. It may appear that there is no way around a situation. He may bring great fear on us. When we buy into his lie, we believe only what we have chosen to perceive to be true. It usually has no basis of truth. Such was the case when Peter looked on the waters during a night boat journey with the other disciples. At first glance, he and the disciples screamed with fear, thinking that what they saw was a ghost. It was actually Jesus.

Satan's name means "accuser." He travels to and fro to accuse the brethren. He brings an impressive front to all he does, yet behind that front is a weak, toothless lion with a destination that has already been prepared in the great abyss. He knows his destination, but he wants to bring as many with him as possible; so he often has a big roar, but little bite.

The next time some event comes into your life that creates fear and trembling, first determine the source. Look past the emotions and evaluate the situation in light of God's Word. Perception is not always reality.

Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit http://www.marketplaceleaders.org/

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What's YOUR secret?

from http://recoveringperfectionist.workpress.com
There is a controversy brewing about a new ad for Bud Lite that is playing online only. It was quietly released back in February and has attracted little attention. I only saw it because it was submitted on Digg by one of my Digg contacts.

Twenty five years ago, the subject making our star so uncomfortable would not have been being outed as a secret porn enthusiast, but something else that people would not have wanted broadcast on the evening news.

Maybe being addicted to buying stuff on QVC, or pigging out on ice cream in the middle of the night, or even someone strait-laced who secretly watched MTV. Or on the more serious side, being discovered to be a bigamist, or an embezzler. Those sound positively lame by today's standards, but THAT is what makes this commercial so clever and funny, even for someone like me who is anti-porn: everyone resonates with the idea of having a secret, whether large or small, that they don't want exposed.

People only reveal their enthusiasm for the offbeat or socially unacceptable to others who will not be offended. Face it, that is why pedophiles hang out with other pedophiles. It's why certain kinds of Digg stories attract a certain kind of Digg reader. It's why there is a scandal when someone who professes to be upright turns out to be downright sleazy.

And Budweiser has discerned that the segment of the audience that would be offended enough to stop buying the product, is probably not buying the product in the first place.

But Belinda from Time Magazine is right, too, that it is a sad day that porn is so "normal" that it is no longer seen as abnormal. That nothing is wrong about indulging our most outrageous, and sometimes disgusting fantasies at the expense of our families, girlfriends, husbands, wives, children.

The comments on the article are actually even sadder than the article. They are, for the most part, criticizing the "uptight" people in the article who think this is not such a good trend.

It is not "uptight" to lament our collective loss of innocence. It has not been that long ago that you would have had to travel to the seedy part of town at night to obtain the magazines that were available in that convenience store. Or perhaps mail order them from a PO Box in New York City.

There are some places in the country where it is still that way. Sometimes, I wish I lived in one of them.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday: Saying Goodbye to Five Star Service in Trenton

I am not now, nor have I ever been, an Obama supporter.

But I grow more incredulous daily as I read about the strange and terrible things that are happening in this country I love since he became President.

Like the closing of Chrysler dealerships.

We have a dealership here locally - in fact, I bought my 2000 Chrysler minivan from them. Since 1972, Irv Roth's Hamilton Chrysler has provided Mercer County, NJ with Five Star Service.

Big deal, what is a Five Star dealership, anyway? According to the home page of Quinn Chrysler Dodge in Bartlesville, OK:

In order to make that claim, the dealership must comply with the Five Star quality program as set forth by Chrysler. It should be noted that there are no official one, two, three, or four star Chrysler dealerships.

To qualify, a Chrysler dealership must:
- Contact every sales and service customer for feedback after the sale or service.
- Survey dealership employees on a regular basis.
- Act on feedback given by customers and employees.
- Maintain high survey ratings.
- Provide training to employees.
- Keep the dealership grounds up to standards.

The Chrysler Five Star quality program has no outside source of certification, and is handled completely within Chrysler. Chrysler pushes its dealers to create a continuous cycle of improvement and measurement in order to counter customer dissatisfaction. The benefit to the consumer is that they can rely on the Five Star program to ensure that they are purchasing products and services from a dealership that has met the rigorous requirements of the program and is focused on customer satisfaction. The benefit to Chrysler is increased quality and satisfaction reports, increased profits, customer retention, and improved relations with their high-standard dealerships. The benefit to the dealership includes increased satisfaction reports, increased profits, customer retention, access to the Chrysler lead generation program, and access to additional incentives for sales.


Well, no problem, then. Hamilton Chrysler has been this, and more, since at least 1987 when I moved into the area. They have an A+ rating with the BBB. So I was fairly certain that they would not be on the chopping block when I heard that Chrysler was closing dealerships. So I was stunned - and mystified - to discover that they were closing after all. Why??

Hot Air reports some strange goings-on in the continuing saga of the Chrysler dealerships that are being abruptly shut down in just about two weeks.

Actually, Hot Air's post references Doug Ross @ Journal, who asks "does it seem odd that the list of closed dealerships appears to have contributed a grand total of $200 to Barack Obama and millions to GOP candidates/causes?"

Please tell me you are kidding.

By the way, I don't have any idea who Mr. Roth or the folks at Quinn Chrysler may or may not have supported. But if these allegations are true, this bodes ill for our beloved country. It's Nixon's enemies list all over again. The list in question actually reveals that these dealers did not support only Republican candidates, but any candidate other than Obama.

If this doesn't upset you, it should. This is just one more evidence that dissent is being stifled in this country. Where is the press? I have not heard a whisper of this in the mainstream press.

Why are Americans not fighting back? Are we asleep? Or worse, are we dead already?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Why we celebrate Memorial Day, and apologize to no one


Our American troops sacrificed everything for freedom and never gave any apology speeches. One of our country’s greatest moments was saving Europe from Germany in World War II. As a tribute them, here are twenty Europe cemeteries dedicated to U.S. WWII soldiers. If we added correctly, the count is 104,366.Apologize to no one. Remind those of our sacrifice and don’t confuse arrogance with leadership. As Americans, let’s all look forward to the next elections - to find a President who doesn’t think we need to be ashamed.

Apologize to no one.

read more digg story

From: I Hate the Media

Friday, May 22, 2009

TGIF - God's Preparation for Moving Out


God's Preparation for Moving Out
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman

Friday, May 22 2009

"In this way the man grew exceedingly prosperous and came to own large flocks, and maidservants and menservants, and camels and donkeys." - Genesis 30:43

Jacob left his homeland after suffering a broken relationship with Esau for stealing the family blessing. He went to work for his uncle Laban where he stayed for 20 years. It came time for him to leave, but he had no physical assets to show for those years under Laban. Laban had taken advantage of his nephew in every way. (In some ways, Jacob was reaping the seed he had sown his entire life as a manipulator and controller.) Nevertheless, God's hand was on Jacob, and He had plans to prosper him. However, Jacob had one problem - he had no resources of his own. For Jacob to launch out on his own, he would need resources. In those days, resources often meant large flocks of animals. God gave Jacob a dream that resulted in a strategy for creating wealth by multiplying his sheep. Even though Laban sought to thwart Jacob's efforts, God overcame the evil in Laban to allow Jacob to prosper.

There are many important lessons for us in this story. First, when God decides it is time to move you into a larger place of His calling, He has the ability to provide the resources you need to support the call. God gave Jacob a dream that resulted in a strategy never used before to build wealth. It was totally from God's hand. It was creative and new. God called Jacob to move out after he had demonstrated his faithfulness in 20 years of serving Laban. He learned to live under authority and served Laban faithfully, even though he knew he was being taken advantage of.

God will do the same for you and me. However, a word of caution: Be sure the strategy is born from above, and not from self-effort. The difficulty for most of us workplace believers is to learn the difference between the strategies born of God versus the strategy of self-effort.

Photo Credit: www.agaritacreek.com


Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit http://www.marketplaceleaders.org/

Thursday, May 21, 2009

ACTION ALERT - NJ Assembly Bill A3477

I received this action alert today from the New Jersey Family Policy Council. The sort of ultrasound images you see here have saved babies from being aborted, particularly when the pregnancy is far along and the woman is considering a late term abortion. A3477 would prohibit pregnancy care centers from purchasing or operating an ultrasound machine.



Assembly Bill #A3477 is moving today in the General Assembly and does not contain an amendment which we have offered. The New Jersey Family Policy Council, New Jersey Family First, NIFLA (National Institute for Life Advocates) and the League of American Families are working together to see that this amendment gets added to A3477.

Without the amendment Pregnancy Care Centers (PCC's - formerly known as Crisis Pregnancy Centers) will be prohibited from securing or operating ultrsound machines. The amendment will insure PCC's can purchase and operate these ultrasound machines that save babies from being aborted.

PLEASE CALL THE ASSEMBLY MAJORITY OFFICE AT 609-292-7065 & THE ASSEMBLY MINORITY OFFICE AT 609-292-5339

Tell the person who answers the call to inform the Assemblymen/women to support the amendment to Assembly bill 3477 which retains the right of pregnancy care centers to purchase and operate ultrasound machines.

PLEASE MAKE THESE TWO CALLS FOR LIFE RIGHT NOW!!! THANK YOU! WE ARE IN TRENTON TODAY LOBBYING FOR THIS AND YOUR CALLS COULD BE THE TIPPING POINT WE NEED.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday: Gallup Poll Shows Majority of Americans are now Pro-Life

A new Gallup poll shows that a majority of Americans are now pro-life. This is the first time that has happened since Gallup began asking the question in 1995!



Source: Gallup Organization

Until now, the highest percentage of adults identifying themselves as pro-life was 46%. The number of people who say abortion should be illegal under all circumstances is now the same as those who say it should be legal under all circumstances - 22%. Click here to see additional graphs and statistics from this interesting article.

This is exciting for the pro-life movement, and an interesting development to be occurring in the administration of the most pro-abortion president in history.

Sincere people have actually looked me in the eye and made the incredible statement, "But President Obama is not pro-abortion!"

If they believe that, I have some swampland in Florida I would like to sell them also.

I am sure there are some readers who think I am exaggerating when I say that Obama is the most pro-abortion president in history. For you, here are some highlights (From US News) of the President's anti-life agenda since his election:

November 19th, 2008 President-elect Obama nominates pro-abortion former Senator Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as his Health and Human Services Secretary.

December 10th, 2008 The Obama transition team publishes a wish listfrom radical pro-abortion groups of pro-abortion actions they would like to see from the Administration.

November 25th, 2008 President-elect Obama appoints Melody Barnes, former board member for the pro-abortion EMILY's List and executive vice president for policy at the George Soros-funded Center for American Progress, as director of the domestic policy council.

December 1st, 2008 President-elect Obama nominates pro-abortion advocate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) as Secretary of State and pro-abortionad vocate Susan Rice as Ambassador to the United Nations.

December 20th 2008 President Obama nominates Harold Varmus and Jonathan Moreno, both of whom advocate for destroying human embryos for experiments and human embryo cloning for experiments, to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

January 6th, 2009 President-elect Obama nominates Thomas Perrelli, attorney who argued on behalf of Michael Schiavo pro bono in the assisted homicide case of Terri Schiavo, to be Associate Attorney General.

President Obama nominates Dawn Johnsen, former Executive Director of radical pro-abortion group NARAL who has argued against the policy of "reducing abortions" and has compared pregnancy to slavery, to be Assistant Attorney General.

January 22nd, 2009 In one of his first written public statements,President Obama releases a statement celebrating the anniversary of the Roe-v.Wade decision that allows for unlimited abortion.

January 23rd, 2009 President Obama issues his Executive Order overturning the Mexico City Policy, freeing up taxpayer funds for groups that perform and promote abortions.

January 26th, 2009 President Obama's nominee for Deputy Secretary of State, James B. Steinberg, testifies that he believes the Constitution guarantees abortion should be funded by taxpayer funds.

February 3rd, 2009 President Obama nominates David Ogden, a lawyer for the porn industry who has argued that girls as young as 14 do not need parental notification when seeking an abortion and that abortion is a form of family planning that should be eligible for taxpayer funding, to be Deputy Attorney General.

Now these are just the things he did as president-elect, and up to the first week he was in office! You can see the rest of the list of things he did in his first 100 days here. He has found other things to do since then.

Actions speak louder than words, and even his words are clear enough that it is hard to understand how anyone could have gotten the idea that he was not pro-abortion.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Choice Sought in Driver Training

by J. Michael Smith
President, HSLDA
Washington Times Op-Ed


Although homeschoolers have won their freedom to teach their children at home in every state, one issue continues to be a problem. It’s whether parents should be allowed to teach their children how to drive.

Despite the freedom to teach every other subject at home, parents in most states are forbidden to teach classroom driver’s education. (Maryland does not allow parents to teach the classroom portion of driver’s education, but Virginia does. The District of Columbia has no classroom requirement.)

Home School Legal Defense Association strongly supports the position that since parents are able to teach all the other subjects and parents are responsible for the well-being and safety of their children, they also should have the right to teach their own children the classroom part of driver’s education.

It was not always this way. In the 1940s and ’50s, parents were the primary driver’s education teachers for their children. In the 1960s and ‘70s, the focus shifted to school-taught driver’s education programs. This shift was made in the hopes of assisting teenagers with their driving skills and tests. However, this has not improved teenage driving safety.

More 16-year-old drivers are dying in vehicle crashes than ever before, even though the number of traffic deaths has declined among the driving population in general. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2006, 6,964 people were killed in crashes involving drivers age 16 to 20, and 3,374 drivers age 16 to 20 were killed in 2005.

The crash risk is particularly high during the first year a teenager is eligible for a driver’s license. The problem is worse in the United States than in many other countries because we allow teenagers to get driver’s licenses at an earlier age, and licenses are inexpensive and easy to obtain.

If there’s a better method of training teens to drive, shouldn’t parents be allowed to make that choice?

In October 2000, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs conducted a research project on the effectiveness of parent-taught driver’s training. In comparing teens who had completed a National Driver Training Institute parent-taught driver’s education program with National Insurance Co. statistics for teen drivers, the study found the parent-taught teens had fewer speeding tickets, fewer accidents, fewer tickets for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and fewer traffic fatalities.

The insurance industry and many state legislatures have been moving toward a system of graduated driver’s licenses, in which a student has certain restrictions imposed—they must drive with an adult in the car, for example—until they reach a certain age. The requirement for driver’s education has been maintained in many states as part of this program. Also, due to financial challenges, many public schools are dropping their driver’s education programs. This forces parents to pay for commercial driving schools when they could just do the job themselves.

If you live in a state that doesn’t provide for parent-taught driver’s education, the only way to change the law is through the legislature. At a time when our country needs to see more parent-child interaction, parent-taught education is the right step to encourage more quality time for parents with their teens.

We have no doubt the effectiveness of parent-taught driver’s education will become evident because of the same principles that make homeschooling successful academically. The tutorial method with the low student-teacher ratio and individualized instruction produces outstanding results.

The bottom line is that no one cares more about the safety of their children than the parent as no one has more to lose than the parent when a child is ill-prepared to receive a driver’s license.

If you would like to see your state adopt parent-taught driver’s education as an option, contact HSLDA by email or at 540/338-5600.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to media@hslda.org.

Other Resources

Sunday, May 17, 2009

TGIF Being a Person Under Authority

Being a Person Under Authority
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
Sunday, May 17 2009


..."I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith." - Matthew 8:10

The centurion came to Jesus and told Him of his servant who was paralyzed and in terrible suffering. He came to Jesus because he believed He could heal him. He told Jesus of the matter, and Jesus was willing to come with the centurion. But the centurion would not have it. He knew that Jesus, being under the authority of Heaven itself, did not have to see the servant to help him. The centurion understood authority. He understood that he himself had certain rights that his position granted him to have power over situations and people. He also was a man under authority. The centurion understood Jesus' position and what power that position held in Heaven - the power to heal his servant if He chose to exercise that authority.

When Jesus saw that the centurion understood this principle of authority and that He did not have to visit the servant to heal him, He acknowledged the centurion's faith. Jesus knew it took great faith to understand authority and whether He had the authority to do what was being asked.

God has placed a system of authority in our world that requires faith to operate under its boundaries: fathers over sons and daughters, employers over employees, government leaders over the people, church leaders over church members. These are authority structures God has placed in our lives to protect and guide us to His will. Some confuse position with worthiness or qualifications of that position. It is the position that God works through. The fact that an authority may not be a Christian may have no bearing on whether God can work through him as your authority. It is only when that authority counsels against a biblical mandate that we should not follow that person's guidance. The hand of the king is in the hand of God.

Today, we find few who understand this system of authority God has ordained. It requires great faith to operate in this realm. Yet Jesus said that when we understand this, we demonstrate the kind of faith that He rarely sees. Be a person of rare faith. See the authorities placed in your life as those God is using to protect you.

Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit http://www.MarketplaceLeaders.org

Monday, May 11, 2009

For Minors in New Jersey, Abortion Easier than Giving Blood


Weekly Trenton Musings
NJ Family Policy Council
Posted May 8, 2009

Wednesday, Governor Corzine signed into law A3580 / S2513, which allows minors who are 16 years of age to donate blood with parental consent. Specifically, the bill states, “Any person of the age of 16 years may donate blood in any voluntary and noncompensatory blood program with the written consent of at least one parent or the person’s legal guardian or other legally responsible adult, as appropriate.” It passed the state legislature with overwhelming support.

Ironically, a 16-year old needs to get consent to donate blood, but in New Jersey, children 16, 15, 14, 13 … and younger … need no such permission to have an abortion. In fact, children don’t even need to tell their parents that they’re having a highly-invasive and potentially dangerous surgical procedure!

In 1999, the New Jersey state legislature passed parental notification legislation, which required a minor either to notify a parent before having an abortion or obtain a court order waiving the requirement that she do so. Note, this law didn’t require parental consent but merely parental notification. In response, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to prevent implementation of the new legislation.

Read more of this disturbing article here.

What does this have to do with homeschooling?

Everything. It is this kind of happy horse manure that responsible parents should be trying to protect their children from.

Homeschooling is a huge commitment, but the fate of one or more of your grandchildren may be decided by legislation like this.

Give blood, give life. Have an abortion, take life. Something is wrong with this picture.

Monday, April 20, 2009

They Gave Us Six Months

I was a liberal feminist. He was Mr. "God's Plan for the Family". I was a Democrat, he was a Republican. I had lived on my own for the previous ten years. He was still living at home at age 27.

I was also a not-Italian, not-Catholic, hard-nosed Wall Street bitch who my future mother-in-law was certain would break her Italian Prince's heart. I was one of "those" Christians, from that Bible thumping "protestante" church he had been attending. Surely I wasn't the right girl for him.

We had nothing in common. I had a subscription at the Metropolitan Opera. He had made up a number of songs mocking opera. I had deliberately moved from the Atlanta suburbs to New York and lived in Manhattan. He was from Jersey City, and he hated New York. He hated Jersey City, too, and devoted his life to trying to get to the suburbs. He hated museums, opera, and ballet. I hated guns, cop shows, and techno-gadget crap.

He had a really sophomoric sense of humor. Too many puns, too much rhyming, too much slapstick. It was Monty Python and Hugh Laurie vs. Leslie Nielsen and the Three Stooges. Jonathan Swift vs. "There was a young man from Nantucket..."

I was headstrong, he was controlling. I was daring, even reckless. He was ridiculously cautious. The irresistible force meets the immovable object.

They gave us six months.

But we knew something they didn't know. He had gone home after the first time we met and announced that he had met the woman he was going to marry. I had heard from God that "this is the one you prayed for." OK, so my response was "Lord, you've gotta be kidding." The fact was that the time we spent together confirmed that we DID have in common the only thing that we had to have in common to make it work: Jesus Christ.

Has it been easy? No.

Has it been worth it? Absolutely.

The foundation we built on sustained us through poverty and plenty, "the Cesspool", church difficulties, political strife, the Pets from Hell, health crises, 2 difficult pregnancies and 2 miscarriages, the deaths of all our parents, buying a house with no money, six years caring for my cantankerous aunt with Alzheimer's, homeschooling, internet marketing, family catastrophes, Homeland Security, spiritual crises, and living in New Jersey. We have survived stresses that would have sunk nine out of ten other marriages.

Maybe ten out of ten.

Twenty four years later, I am more sure than ever that I made the right choice. That I really did hear from the Lord. That my husband is the one and only that I prayed for.

Happy anniversary, honey. I love you more than you'll ever know.

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." - Matthew 7:24-27



Sunday, April 19, 2009

TGIF: Closed on Sunday

TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman

"Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you" (Ex 31:14).

Can a business have a Christian testimony without ever saying a word? Absolutely.

Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A, Inc. is America's second-largest quick service chicken restaurant chain. The company's stated corporate purpose is "to glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us, and to have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A." The company is a great example of a business that is modeling Christian values and producing a quality product in the competitive fast-food industry. Chick-fil-A is one of the fastest-growing chains nationally, currently with over two billion dollars in annual sales.

One of the defining distinctions of Chick-fil-A is that the restaurants are not open on Sundays. From the time Truett Cathy, the company's founder, started in the restaurant business in 1946, he believed that God wanted him to honor the Sabbath by keeping the stores closed on Sundays. Although he was challenged on this idea many times by shopping mall operators, Truett always held that "we will have more sales in six days than those who are open for seven." This has proven to be true, and today it is no longer an issue to fulfill the malls' requirement to remain open on Sunday.

When you go to a Chick-fil-A restaurant, you can tell something is different about the people and the atmosphere. The messages in the company's kids' meals always reinforce education, values, and integrity. Although the employees do not wear their faith on their sleeve, the fruit of the company is known by many - especially the many young restaurant employees who receive educational scholarships each year. The company also focuses on character-building programs for kids, foster homes, and other community services. I have spoken at Chick-fil-A's corporate headquarters several times and have met with Truett and his son, Dan. The appearance of their headquarters conveys their values - a sense of quality without extravagance.

Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit http://www.MarketplaceLeaders.org

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Help Homeschooling Thru the Early Years

From HSLDA - Announcing Help for moms of preschool and elementary age kids!

Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:

As a veteran homeschool mom, I remember that it can be overwhelming when you aren’t sure how to begin or which curriculum to choose … or maybe you just don’t feel that you can handle homeschooling AND the house …or perhaps you just need a little encouragement to keep going! You know that homeschooling is a journey, but what started out as a sprint has become a cross-country trip (and some days feels like a marathon!). It’s easy to feel “geographically challenged”— unsure of where you are, where you’re going, or how you’re going to get there.

When Jim and I started homeschooling in the 80’s, we didn’t know anyone else in our state who homeschooled. Boy, it sure would have been great to be able to pick up the phone and talk to another parent who had been-there-done-that, or to get a newsletter in my box—filled with tips and suggested resources for the topics of interest to my family—sort of like roadside assistance along the journey.

Home School Legal Defense Association is here for you as you embark upon this incredible adventure! Many of you are familiar with our high school program and the struggling learner program. But maybe you have a preschooler or primary student—or perhaps a middle schooler? So HSLDA added a coordinator dedicated specifically to serving parents in this season of homeschooling, from toddlers all the way through ’tweens.

I’m here to answer members’ specific questions, provide general information, and offer encouragement, covering topics from curriculum choices to scheduling and lesson planning to testing, to resources and teaching tips for preschool all the way through middle school.

As our new Web section goes “live” this week, you’ll find helpful articles and resources to equip and encourage you, to help you as you determine your destination, plan your adventure, and choose the best route to get there. I’ll be adding more on a regular basis, so please check back often at www.hslda.org/earlyyears.

And be sure to subscribe now to our FREE Early Years e-newsletter at so you won’t miss even one! Upcoming topics include how to get the most out of your state convention, curriculum options, and getting the house organized for homeschooling. I hope that the first e-newsletter—on testing—will take the anxiety out of end-of-year evaluations. Don’t miss it—sign up today!

Please drop me a note or give me a call to let me know how I can best serve you. And remember—You CAN homeschool!

Enthusiastically,

Vicki Bentley
Early Years coordinator

www.hslda.org/earlyyears
earlyyears@hslda.org
(540) 338-5600

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday: 10 Publicity Stunts That Attracted Thousands of People

Bra-banded band, pimpthisbum.com and Time standing still in New York’s Grand Central Station are amongst the list of the publicity stunts that got the attention of thousands of people. I would have to say that the omission of the Where in the World is Matt? campaign that got people dancing all over the world is glaring.But if you have a chance to check out the original videos of these events, they will make you smile.



I promise I will be getting back to the topic of home business, with an emphasis on using social media. Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably familar at least with the names of the sites MySpace, Facebook, Orkut, Bebo, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Digg. You have already seen some prior posts that reference one or more of these sites. I'll get back to that in another article. But count me out for the rest of the week as I go on vacation to celebrate my 24th wedding anniversary!

read more | digg story

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday: What is this?

Easily accessible from a major New Jersey Interstate.
Plush Carpet.
Comfortable Chairs and Couches.
Arched Ceiling.
Soft Lighting.
Tasteful Decorations.
“Valet” Service for your Automobile.
Free Internet Access.
Free Coffee.

Answer to follow...





It’s the Waiting Room for the Express Lube and Car Wash on Route 130 in Hamilton Township , Mercer County , NJ!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Passion of the Christ - Facebook Style

Here is a clever retelling of the Easter Story as if it appeared on Facebook. I found it in bob.blog. From a comment in the story: "I'm going to go on a limb and say I don't think God holds himself above satire. Since really when you think about it, what is the point of satire? It brings more clearly into focus the truth of the object of satire. Which in his case, is something worth thinking on."



I thought this was worth sharing with Christians, those who really love satire, or anyone who really appreciates Facebook. It could be the funniest thing you read all day, or the most offensive. It is satirical - if you are too religious to have a sense of humor, don't bother. If you are too much of an atheist to click on something about Christ, don't bother. And it is coming from a particular theological stance that I do not agree with. But I know that some of my readers wouldn't agree with ANY theological stance, so what difference? I am taking a cue from St. Paul as we wind our way through the holiest week on the Christian calendar: "But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice." Phil 1:18

read more | digg story

Monday, April 06, 2009

Democrats' Next Target: the Internet

Democrat Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia has introduced two senate bills that may severely regulate traffic on the Internet.The Canadian Free Press explains it this way: The White House will have new powers to access private online data, regulate the cyber security industry and even shut down Internet traffic.

From the article: "When most of us think of Big Brother, we think it would be some invasive government device coming in to our house with a camera and a screen like 1984. But this law makes me realize it will be much more subtle and sinister than that, at first at least. Right now Citizens of the USA are voluntarily inputing, creating and surrendering their "private" information for Big Brother, and they don't even realize it! Everyone who has "private information" and "private messages" and "private images" and "private friends" in their "private" facebook, my space or any other social website, will have their privacy invaded with this new law. Even if a citizen uses every security feature of the website available, to keep people they don't know from viewing their "private" information, they will not truly have privacy because government can enter. Also every medical record that the government wants on the internet will be subject to privacy invasion as well. Perhaps all e-mail services too?"

A must read, if you value the internet.

read more | digg story

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dazzling Miniature Wonderland in Hamburg

This is an overview of the amazing, detailed miniature railroad and multi-country display located in Hamburg, Germany.



Click on this link to view the original in a slightly larger format.

I was all excited and thinking I might actually want to visit Hamburg, until I discovered that I live less than an hour from America's version of this same kind of miniature spectacle, called Northlandz. Unfortunately, Northlandz has an uninspiring website, but what a bonus field trip site for New Jersey homeschoolers!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The 10 Symptoms of Mammon's Influence

Here is a compelling recording of Episode 5 of the Renegade Christian Entrepreneur Bible Study, a study of Earl Pitts’ book, Wealth, Riches, and Money. Bruce Cook, host of the annual Kingdom Economic Summit, is teaching today's lesson. The study actually begins at about 27:00 of the recording.



Here is one symptom: Don't want to be accountable, secretive.

You will have to listen to the audio to hear the rest. For additional Christian business resources, visit Christian Business Daily.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Digg This: The Hijacking of a Life Part 1


Maybe you have wondered where I have been, maybe you haven't.

After posting daily since July 2008, I suddenly dropped off the face of the earth. I only posted a few times in February, and only one of those was not a repost of TGIF or some other article written by someone else.

I have been hanging out on Digg.

For the Christian homeschooler, the world of Digg is, well, another galaxy far, far away. You can count on seeing plenty of profanity, blasphemy, obscenity, tirades against "fundies", and the parroting of every pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, socialist platitude that young, liberated wannabes have been spouting for a hundred years. Oh, there are other conservatives, and other Christians, and I have found some of them. But for the most part, I have been wandering in the lion's den.

Populated largely by twenty-something techies, gamer guys, atheists, and liberals of every stripe, it doesn't sound like a place that would even be a little attractive to someone like me - a fifty-something, conservative Christian homeschooling mom.

And at first, it wasn't. But there was something strangely familiar about it...it has taken me this long to figure out what it was.

What it is.

It is a window back in time --back to the pre-video game, pre-pc, pre-internet, pre-cell phone, pre-ATM, pre-calculator time when I was a college student spouting the same tirades against "fundies", pro-marijuana, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, marxist egalitarian platitudes and reading Marx and Engels, Nietzsche, and liberation theology.

Back to recession. The Oil Crisis and gas rationing. Stagflation. The Dow under 600. (Not 6,000 - 600.) Unemployment.

To Iranian students marching fifteen abreast down Peachtree Street shouting "The Shah is a US Puppet, Down with the Shah!" To posters depicting Rev. Sun Myung Moon that declared "October 30 Could Be Your Re-Birthday!" To Skylab and Spiro Agnew. Siddhartha. USSR. Abortion still illegal.

To Kent State, the Symbianese Liberation Army, Wounded Knee, Nixon in China, the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, M*A*S*H, the legalization of abortion, Watergate, and those newfangled devices - VCR's and calculators.

Let's fast forward that old VCR - where are we now?

US offering to cancel an important defense project in exchange for Russia's cooperation in blocking Iranian missile plans. Reverend Wright.

Hillary in China, an African American president, $40,000 per year college educations, Hamas in Gaza, legalization of medical marijuana, rising worldwide hatred of Israel, 50,000,000 abortions performed and counting, Octo-mom, Blackwater, Gitmo, waterboarding.

Bush and Cheney, legalization of medical marijuana, reality TV, and technology advancing at breakneck speed.

Recession, bailout, stimulus, unemployment. The Dow threatening to go below 6,000.

Profanity, blasphemy, obscenity, tirades against "fundies." And college students spouting pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, marxist egalitarian platitudes and reading Marx and Engels, Nietzsche, and liberation theology. Same song, second verse.

A really important question, then, is why is it so addictive?

Photo credit: tutorial-net.blogspot.com

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday: Wal-Mart Customer Finds Human Teeth in New Wallet


Police say the man found 10 human teeth Saturday when he unzipped a compartment in the wallet. One tooth had a filling.

Honestly, I couldn't make this stuff up. From FOX News...

read more | digg story

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Jonathan Krohn: 13-Year-Old Conservative Wunderkind Wows 'Em At CPAC



I would never have believed I would be linking to the liberal Huffington Post in a million years. But I couldn't resist sharing a wonderful article about a rising conservative star who has written a book called Define Conservatism.

Did I mention he is 14 years old and homeschooled? Well, he will be 14 next week, if that counts.

Read the article, and then see for yourself. There are videos on the HuffPo site of his speech before CPAC last week.

read more | digg story

No time to go look at the article, take a quick look at this video of his appearance on FOX News.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Home schooled athletes face obstacles to play basketball


Photo: Washington Times

Rebecca Reifsnider is a 5-10 junior, a top rebounder and scorer among girls high school basketball players in Frederick County. She wants to play in college, and her coach believes she is good enough.Yet Reifsnider does not attend high school, public or private. She plays for the Frederick Warriors, a team of home-schooled students.

read more | digg story

Backdrop: I submitted this story on Digg because as a homeschooler I found it interesting. I was astonished when it went to the Digg front page and attracted no end of comments, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Homeschoolers, if your kids play sports, either on a homeschool team, a travel team, at a public or charter school, you will want to contribute your perspective to the lively debate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday - Avoiding High Credit Card Fees

Outrageous Fees...

Greg McBride, CFA
Bankrate.com

T he fees really add up -- bank fees, credit card fees, loan fees, real estate fees and car rental fees. As a consumer, you get dinged at every turn, it seems. Some of these charges may appear to be reasonable -- while others are clearly outrageous. But you can beat the system if you know how...

BANKING AND CREDIT CARD FEES

Fees charged by banks and credit card companies have skyrocketed in the last several years. Some of the worst...

Doubled-up ATM fees. When you use a machine that belongs to a bank other than the one that issued your ATM card, your bank may charge you a fee (usually $1.25 per transaction), and the owner of the ATM will charge a fee, as well ($1.64 on average). It's common for banks to charge $2 or even more at ATMs in airports, hotels, sports venues and other places where they know you are under pressure to find cash.

Self-defense: Know your bank's policy regarding ATM fees. Use your own bank's machines or national ATMs -- machines within a national surcharge-free network, such as Alliance One (866-692-6771, www.allianceone.coop) and Freedom ATM Alliance (412-261-8146, www.freedomatm.com) -- where there are usually no fees.

Check my company's Web site, www.bankrate.com, for the best ATM fees.

Balance-transfer fees. If you move your credit card balance to another card to obtain a lower interest rate, the new card company can charge you a fee.

Example: Bank of America charges 3% of the balance transferred.

Self-defense: Use a credit card company that has no fees for balance transfers and low interest rates.

Examples: Capital One (888-810-4013, www.capitalone.com) has no balance-transfer fees on most cards... Wachovia (800-922-4684, www.wachovia.com) exempts new customers from balance-transfer fees.

Credit card late and over-the-limit fees. Your credit card company may slap on a fee for paying late or for charging beyond your credit limit, even if your payment record is otherwise perfect.

Example: Providian charges a $39 late fee to any customer with a balance of $200 or more who misses a payment deadline, and $39 to those who exceed their credit line by 2% or more.

Self-defense: To avoid these fees...

Mail your credit card payment 10 days to two weeks before its due date... or if you pay on-line, a few days before it's due.

Ask to have your payment date moved so that the bill arrives right after a paycheck.

Contact your issuer and arrange automatic on-line payments. Citibank, MBNA, Discover, American Express and others have on-line sign-ups to do this.

Pay by phone at the toll-free number on the back of the credit card (there may be a charge from $5 to $15 for this service). The amount will be immediately withdrawn from your bank account and you'll receive a confirmation of the transaction by mail.

What to do: Ask your issuer to waive the fee -- many will do so as a courtesy to customers with good payment records.

Biweekly mortgage payment fee. The "magic" of a biweekly (every two weeks) mortgage payment is that you end up making the equivalent of 13 full mortgage payments in a year rather than the usual 12, reducing the time needed to pay down the mortgage and cutting interest payments substantially. But a biweekly payment plan from a bank often includes an up-front fee of several hundred dollars and monthly fees of about $10.

Self-defense: Instead, make extra principal payments with each of your regular monthly mortgage payments. You'll accelerate the payoff and reduce interest as much as you want to with no extra fees (assuming your mortgage allows this).

REAL ESTATE FEES

When selecting a home, the key is location, location, location, but at closing time, the key is fees, fees, fees...

Closing costs. When shopping for a mortgage lender, consider not only the interest rate but also closing costs. By law, you'll receive from the lender up front a "good faith estimate" (GFE) of closing costs. This is an itemized list of estimated costs to be paid at closing (e.g., the lender's fees, appraisal charges, title insurance premium, a partial month's interest payment).

Self-defense: Apply with three different lenders and compare their GFEs. Filling out applications takes some time, but it costs nothing to apply -- and you could save thousands of dollars. Use the free search engine at Bankrate.com. Then try to get fees waived or reduced or credited toward closing costs. The lender may not budge -- but it's worth asking.

Have your GFE reviewed by an attorney or other professional well before the closing. The privately run National Mortgage Complaint Center (866-714-6466, www.nationalmortgagecomplaintcenter.com) will review it and tell you about any excessive fees. Cost: $45.

Note: Banks should charge the buyer what they paid in appraisal, credit report and inspection fees. Often, they mark those fees up. Ask the lender to seek good deals on these items and pass along the savings to you. It may not -- but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Title insurance. When you get a new mortgage or refinance an old one, you must buy title insurance to protect against such problems as forgery of old title documents and potential interests of missing heirs. The premium is paid once and averages $800.

Self-defense: In some states, such as Texas, premiums are fixed by law. If the premium isn't fixed in your state, search under "title insurance" on the Internet or check the Yellow Pages. Call the companies to ask about their rates and coverage. If you're refinancing your mortgage and have lived in the house less than 10 years, ask to get title insurance at the less expensive "reissue" rate

Bottom Line/Retirement interviewed Greg McBride, CFA, senior financial analyst, Bankrate.com, North Palm Beach, Florida, a provider of interest rate information and personal finance news, articles and commentary (www.bankrate.com).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday - Did You Know?


If you have been wondering why you are stressed out, if may be because of information overload. A lot of these things, I'll bet you did NOT know, did not want to know, and would have been fine if you never knew. But it is an interesting commentary on the speed of change, and the crush of information that we are having a hard time processing.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

TGIF - You Want Me To Do WHAT??

You Want Me to Do What?
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1 by Os Hillman
Sunday, February 08 2009


..."Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." - John 21:6a

The disciples were fishing. It was after Jesus had been crucified. Peter had gone through his most agonizing moment in which he had denied Jesus three times. He had lost a friend. No doubt he probably wondered whether the last three years were a dream. What now?

Peter had been prepared three years, but he was not going out to preach; he was going fishing. He had returned to his trade of days gone by. He had a level of experience with Jesus that no other human on earth can boast. This was the third encounter he was about to have with Jesus after His resurrection. Jesus looked to Peter and John in their boat and made a suggestion.

"Friends, haven't you any fish?"

"No," they answered.

He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some" (Jn. 21:6a).

Now, if you are as seasoned in your fishing as these guys were, wouldn't you be a bit irritated if a stranger suggested that you simply put your nets over the other side to catch some fish? Yet we find that they took this stranger's advice. Once they were obedient, the Lord revealed Himself.

When they followed Jesus' advice, the catch was enormous - 153 fish in total. In most cases such a haul would have broken the net. Jesus invited them to have breakfast with Him - fish and bread; He had already started the fire. I can only imagine that this scene would resemble some buddies going out and camping together.

There is so much that we are to learn in this passage about God's ways. As a workplace believer, we must understand that after we have spent years with Jesus, this does not always mean we must leave our professions in order to fully follow Jesus. Peter went back to his profession - fishing. It was here that Jesus asked him a simple question: Do you love Me and will you feed My sheep? He didn't say to Peter, "Fishing is a waste of time for you now, Peter." This recommissioning was in the area of his original calling - his work. We need not feel that we must go to the "mission field" to please Jesus. Our work is our mission field. We must, however, make a paradigm shift in our thinking about our place in the work world. We must have an overriding sense of mission and ministry that comes out of that work. This is what is meant when we say that we must all be circumcised before we can enter the Promised Land. When this happens, we can expect to see God fill the nets with His blessings. He wants to do this because He now owns the net, and He can trust us to manage it.

Reprinted by permission from the author. Os Hillman is an international speaker and author of more than 10 books on workplace calling. To learn more, visit http://www.MarketplaceLeaders.org

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Civic Impact of College - Part One


Are you more knowledgeable than the average citizen?

Our Fading Heritage is the third major study conducted by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute on the kind of knowledge required for informed citizenship.

Its conclusions are appalling. But lets look at the background.

In 2006 and 2007, 14000 college freshmen and seniors were given a multiple-choice quiz containing 60 basic questions about America - the kind of stuff high school seniors and new citizens are expected to know.

The kind of stuff homeschoolers eat for breakfast.

In both years, both groups utterly failed. And worse, the seniors only had a 1.5% advantage over the freshmen. So, basically, this means that after spending a fortune on college, the students do not gain any appreciable knowledge about America's unique form of self-government. Moreover, the more prestigious the college, the LESS likely the seniors were to know more than freshmen about government, economics, American History, and foreign affairs.

This year, ISI decided to take it to the streets. They asked a random sample of American adults to answer a basic test of only 33 multiple choice civics questions, plus a few other additional questions, then analyzed the data in such a way that enabled them to compare the "civic impact of college with other societal factors."

In other words, do colleges help our students become better citizens?

Now for the appalling part. The answer is a resounding NO.

  • 71% of Americans fail the test
  • Fewer than half of all Americans can name the three branches of government
  • Only 24% of college graduates know that the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of an official religion in the US
  • Only 54% can identify a basic description of our free enterprise system
  • Elected Officials score even lower than the general public
Thirty percent of elected officials do not know that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are the inalienable rights referred to in the Declaration of Independence. Perhaps this is the reason we have gotten into such a mess.

You can read the whole sad story at the ISI website.

If you are very brave, why don't you take the test yourself and see whether you are more knowledgeable than the average citizen?

Then contrast this with the good news about homeschooling and civics education Homeschooling Grows Up, a report by the National Center for Home Education about behaviors of adults who were homeschooled. According to this report, 76% of those 18-24 have voted in a state or national election within the previous 5 years, compared to 29% of the general US population, and a staggering 95% of those 25-29 have voted versus 40% of the general population.

Now, in the wake of the Obama campaign and his subsequent election, those statistics are probably no longer accurate as far as sheer numbers of younger voters in the general populace are concerned, though a case could still be made about whether those who voted could be considered "informed citizens."

Large numbers of young white voters from elite colleges voted for Obama. Tomorrow's post will examine some interesting information about the "civic impact of elite colleges."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

TGIF - The New Employee

The New Employee
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 2, by Os Hillman
01-15-2009

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (2 Cor 4:7).

What would happen if Jesus took your place for a year in your workplace? Let's consider some hypothetical things that He might do.

He would do His work with excellence. He would be known around the office for the great work He did (Exodus 31:2).

He would develop new ideas for doing things better (Eph 3:20).

He would hang out with sinners in order to develop a relationship with them in order to speak to them about the Father (Mt 9:12).

He would strategically pray for each worker about their concerns and their needs. He would pray for those who even disliked Him (Mt 5:44).

He would rally the office to support a needy family during Christmas (Jer 22:16).

He would offer to pray for those who were sick in the office and see them get healed (Mt 14:14).

He would honor the boss and respect him/her (Titus 2:9).

He would consider the boss as His authority in His workplace (Rom 13:1).

He would be truthful in all his dealings and never exaggerate for the sake of advancement ( Ps 15:2).

He would be concerned about His city (Lk 19:41).

He would always have a motive to help others become successful, even at his own expense (Pr 16:2).

Hmm. Sounds like some good ideas we could each model.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Utterly Off Topic Wednesday: Obama Won - Now what?

The Onion takes a fantastically lighthearted look at something that many of us noticed in all seriousness during the campaign.

Tell the truth - didn't you know at least ONE (hundred?) Obama supporters who didn't respond to reason, facts or anything at all that contradicted their Obama obsession?

What are these people going to do now?


Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are

Sunday, January 18, 2009

You Can Help The World From Your Home Computer

You Can Help the World from Your Home Computer

Robert J. Rosenthal
VolunteerMatch

U ntil recently, volunteer work almost always meant spending time at the location of an organization devoted to a cause you care deeply about. Today, thanks to the Internet, you can often help those causes even more by staying home and working at your computer.

"Virtual volunteering" is the most popular term for this type of online activity. Organizations devoted to human rights, politics, religion, disaster relief, animal protection, the ill and disabled, the environment, immigrants, women's issues and dozens of other causes all need thousands of virtual volunteers.

Your age makes no difference. In fact, if you have an illness or a physical condition that hinders you from volunteering outside your home, you can still participate fully as a virtual volunteer.

VITAL ASSISTANCE

As a virtual volunteer, you help organizations with skills they need, such as doing research and graphic design, writing grant proposals, helping students, contacting donors or writing materials that the organizations publish and/or post on the Web.

Example: A few years ago, I was an employee of a real estate development company and wanted to do more for the San Francisco community in which I lived. I contacted the Taproot Foundation, which helps professionals donate their business skills to community organizations, and within a few weeks, I was a member of a volunteer team that was building Web sites for several nonprofit organizations. My job was to write copy for the sites, and like all other team members, I worked from home. I enjoyed volunteer work so much that I decided to make it my career.

The flexibility of virtual volunteering also lets you help an organization across the country or even in another part of the world. Examples...

Family-to-Family (914-478-0756, www.family-to-family.org), an organization that helps feed families in needy communities nationwide, recently appealed for 25 virtual volunteers to work a few hours a month writing grant proposals and press releases, as well as dealing with other media issues. All volunteers could work from their home computers.

Wisconsin and Minnesota-based Nibakure Children’s Village (612-578-6560, www.nibakure.org) recently needed three volunteers to work online two hours a week on fund-raising for an orphanage in Rwanda.

Political parties. The Democratic and Republican parties are nearly always in need of virtual volunteers.

Virtual volunteering isn't for everyone. By working from home, you won't meet face-to-face each day with other volunteers -- something that many people might want. On the other hand, virtual volunteers are often in touch with others by E-mail and occasional phone calls.

You also need a computer, an Internet connection and a certain amount of skill in using them (but you don't have to be a computer whiz, by any means). Even if you lack these skills, many nonprofit organizations will be eager to help you learn.

HELPS YOU, TOO

Apart from helping an important cause, volunteers can benefit in a way that's often overlooked -- furthering their own careers, especially second careers. By volunteering, you can gain experience in a field that might otherwise be difficult for you to break into. Examples...

If you want to go into paralegal work, you can start by taking a few courses at a local college and then build up your résumé by volunteering online for an organization that needs assistance with paralegal matters.

If you're interested in public relations work, you could easily benefit from writing press releases -- a skill that many charitable groups are in such need of that they coach virtual volunteers on how to do it. Armed with that skill, you might also sell your services to for-profit organizations.

FINDING A CAUSE

Tens of thousands of organizations, large and small, increasingly depend on volunteers who work from home via the Internet. The easiest way to find one is through the Web-based groups that link volunteers with organizations that need them. These include...

Network for Good, founded by America Online, Cisco Systems and Yahoo (866-650-4636, www.networkforgood.org).

Points of Light Institute, a Washington, DC-based organization that recently merged with a similar group, the Hands On Network (202-729-8000, www.pointsoflight.org).

Taproot Foundation, which puts together teams of working people who want to help charitable groups (415-359-1423, www.taprootfoundation.org).

ServiceLeader.org at the University of Texas at Austin (512-232-7062, www.serviceleader.org).

VolunteerMatch, my organization, with volunteer opportunities from more than 55,000 nonprofit organizations (415-241-6868, www.volunteermatch.org).

UN Volunteers, an arm of the United Nations that can be contacted by E-mail at information@unvolunteers.org and by phone in Germany at 49-228-815-2000. Its Web sites are www.onlinevolunteering.org and www.unvolunteers.org.

Even though these organizations link to thousands of nonprofit groups, some groups -- especially those that are new and/or small -- aren't listed. For that reason, it often pays to ask about online volunteer opportunities at your house of worship or at local civic organizations.

Don't be discouraged if a group you would like to work for hasn't used online volunteers. You might interest the organization in taking you on as its first virtual volunteer.



Bottom Line/Retirement interviewed Robert J. Rosenthal, communications director, VolunteerMatch, a San Francisco-based organization that links volunteers with the organizations that need them (www.volunteermatch.org).

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