4/10/2015

It's a Crazy Life!

God has a sense of humor.  

On Monday, I needed to shop at Walmart in the evening, so I took my driver's license and charge card out of my wallet and carried them in my pocket.  Ever mindful of safety, I didn't want to carry a purse.

That began the missing driver's license saga!  I didn't recall what I had done until Wednesday when I noticed that my license wasn't in my wallet. That began the panicked search all over the house for my missing cards, including going through all the trash, prayer, checking at Walmart, and more prayer.

So . . . I haven't been stopped by a police officer in 20 years, and I needed to take Bethany to her caregiver and then attend a meeting at church.  I decided to risk driving without my license.  Guess what? Yep.  I was stopped by a police officer.  You can only imagine how nervous I was, and I had no clue what I had done.  

It turned out that I hadn't done anything wrong.  She had thought I was using my phone, but I wasn't.  I dug through my purse until I found it and once I figured out where the calls were was able to show her that I was innocent.  Fortunately, she didn't check my ID!

Talk about stressed out! So I dutifully made an appointment with the DMV and resigned myself to limited driving, trying to think of ways to have Noelle drive me around without encroaching on her time.  Unfortunately, with all the illegal aliens  undocumented immigrants now getting driver's licenses, the first available appointment was six weeks away.  Sigh.

This morning, I woke up at five, cleared off my desk, and lo and behold, there were my cards, right under a wedding invitation I had scanned for my son!  Thank you, God! 

Now why in the world when I haven't been stopped by a policeman but once in my life, did I get stopped on the one day I didn't have my license?  

3/15/2015

Not so deep thoughts . . .

I would never have thought this, but it is easier to put up with broken teeth than a sprained ankle.  Dentists can fix teeth quickly!

I wonder what causes Bethany to have more seizures.  This past month I started using more frankincense on her feet and changed her iodine from crushed tablet to liquid.  Seizures increased, but it might be coincidence.

I miss my kids and I wish they'd call, Skype, text, and or email more often!  I wish I had done the same for my parents. (Well at least write and call--we didn't call much because it cost money! Computers and cell phones didn't exist.) After writing this, I'm going to call Dad tomorrow.


Noelle and I went shopping at Michaels and put together this happy arrangement!

2/27/2015

More Health Care Surprises

First, let me say that I am not writing this to elicit sympathy.  Although I may cite personal examples, my desire is to explain the ramifications of the health care law.  This is simply to increase awareness. As a Christian, I trust that God is able.

My husband helps run a small nonprofit ministry, so we purchase our own insurance.  Before the new healthcare laws were enacted, the money spent on insurance was considered nontaxable income.  Now it is taxable.

This year we were surprised to learn that out of pocket expenses for medical care are now taxable as well.  Previously, if we had high medical bills, we could receive extra income to pay for those expenses.  That is no longer allowed.  For example, when our handicapped daughter was small, we paid for her expensive dental treatments ourselves.  We were allowed to ask people to donate extra money to our ministry to offset those expenses.  This is no longer allowed under the ACA as of this year.

To add insult to injury, the money we do spend on extra health care is now considered taxable income. Whether the authors of the bill intended this or not, the obvious result will be that people in ministry will have to carefully consider whether they can afford that trip to the dentist or new eye glasses, etc.

It increasingly seems to me that the ACA is just a sneaky way to raise taxes on the middle class, and employees of small churches and nonprofits are the first to experience the wonderful opportunity to pay more taxes!

1/05/2015

Giving--Is the organization worthy?

Lately I have seen facebook posts encouraging people to give or not give to various organizations. When I read the information, I was frustrated because the posts often were emotional and without clear sources for their information.  If facts were presented, I had no way to verify their accuracy.

Since my husband has worked as a consultant for nonprofit ministries for years, I decided to ask him for his opinion.

First, I wanted to know if it is a bad thing for operating expenses to be a high percentage of the amount raised.  Surprisingly, he didn't think so.  He said that it really depended on how much was raised. If an organization has low operating expenses of $100,000 and raises $500,000, it has a 5 to 1 ratio and has $400,000 to spend.  If a second organization has higher operating expenses of $500,000 and raises $1,500,000, it has a 3 to 1 ratio but has a million dollars to spend.  Even though the overhead for the second organization is much higher, it can spend more on serving the needs of others.

Secondly, I asked about the fairness of paying a CEO a high salary.  He said that a good CEO is worth the money. (Basically, you get what you pay for.) 

He mentioned three sources of accurate information on nonprofits:  http://www.guidestar.org/http://www.charitynavigator.org/, and http://www.ecfa.org/

However, the above organizations can not measure everything.  When deciding whether to give to an organization, one also has to look at the goals and how well they are being met.  This is not easy to measure because it depends on getting evaluations from the people the group is helping. So it is good to find out how well the organization performs when meeting the needs of others.

In conclusion, carefully examine the organization but don't just look at the percentage of money spent on overhead as compared to actual ministry.  Decide whether the goals of the group match your desires and then do your best to find out how well the nonprofit meets those goals.  

12/17/2014

Is it important to learn about missions?

I can pronounce Cote d'lvoire and find it on a map.  That's because I teach about missions in Girls in Action, a children's program at my church.  I have been teaching GA for about sixteen years, but this is my first encounter with this African country.  We learn about such a variety of missionaries that we rarely study the same place twice.  Not only can I locate this country, so can most of the girls in my second grade class.


However, we not only know where a country is located, we learn about the people and the culture. Did you know that whole frogs are a delicacy in Cote d'lvoire?  Imagine getting to eat a whole frog, bones and all!

I have learned about everything from surfing missionaries to cowboy missionaries.  Some work in jungles and some have mystery names in mystery places because it isn't safe for the details to be published. Others work in cities with the rich or the poor.  They may help the homeless or children living in the inner city.  Some are doctors and nurses.  Some start businesses in other countries. Some are teachers and some work in offices helping missionaries get what they need. Recently we learned about chaplains and emergency relief workers.

In some areas of Africa, the people are so poor that the average life span is only thirty-two. Missionaries in these areas sense the urgency of telling every person about the love of God in sending his Son Jesus because the next day they may get sick and die.

Why do I teach about missions?  Because as Christians, we are called to go into all the world and make disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20)  The more children hear about missions and the great variety of opportunities, the easier it will be for them to make the decision to go and tell others as well.

Romans 10:13-15 says that we need to send preachers to everyone so they can be saved.  We need to SEND them.  That includes keeping them in prayer and supporting them.  Children can pray and bring offerings.  They also can learn to tell their friends about the good news of Jesus.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, how beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

During this Christmas season, I want to remember the missionaries who have given up the comforts of home to go and serve others.  I pray that I can do my part here in my own neighborhood as well!

8/30/2014

The Evil Plastic Bag

Well, unless Jerry Brown vetoes the bill, the one use plastic bag will soon be outlawed in California.

I'm not sure I like the idea of carrying cloth bags everywhere.  That is one more thing to remember, and then I'll have to do more laundry too!  My other option will be to buy the paper bags or heavier plastic bags that the store will now sell for my convenience for at least ten cents each.  This seems like a money grab to me.

I wonder where the money trail goes on this new law?  Or is is just a power grab?  I am a bit of a skeptic, but I remember when paper was banned in favor of the "better for the environment" plastic bag.  What a twisted world we live in!

Here is an article on the subject:

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/opinion/trendy-drive-ban-plastic-grocery-bags-does-it-really-help-environment

This is a serious study of the impact of all bags on the environment from UK.  I read this a few years ago when cities first started banning plastic bags.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/291023/scho0711buan-e-e.pdf

 Instead of banning bags, the government could encourage people to recycle them.  I personally either recycle or reuse the bags.  I use several disposable bags a day around the house, and I use them as small trash can liners as well.

I've been reading a little on plastic in the ocean, but I would like to see more facts on the subject.  Is that plastic from disposable bags or from other things?  Does it really cause a problem?  Will banning bags in the grocery store really make a difference or is it just a "feel good" thing to do?



8/25/2014

Memories

Jon is leaving for St Louis in a few days to work on his doctorate in philosophy.  I didn't realize it when he was little, but I guess he has always been a philosopher.

Noelle recently found this little memory I had written: 

At the age of four, Jonathan was playing a Monopoly game.  He began to look through the Community Chest cards to select the one he wanted instead of picking up the top card.  I told him he couldn't do that because it was cheating.  Then I realized his young age and said something like "No, it isn't cheating for a four year old.  When you do that at the age of nine, it will be cheating."

Jon drew himself up straight, looked at me and replied, "No, Mom.  When I am nine I won't cheat, I'll lie."