Friday, July 25, 2014

Verse of the Week - Romans 12:14

I've been giving a lot of thought to this week's verse.  I think it may be one of the hardest things for people to do.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Romans 12:14

I'm paying a lot of attention to what is going on in Iraq right now.  The persecution of Christians in that country has reached monumental levels.  Iraqi Christians have been told to convert to Islam, pay a hefty fine, or face "death by sword."  And let's face it, the option to die is the one that ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) seems to favor.

Christians in Iraq are fleeing.  They are losing everything they have just to escape death.  It's a horrible situation.  There have been reports of horrific acts of violence.

So how does one bless the people doing this and not curse them?

As I sit here giving this some serious thought, the only answer I have is prayer.  Bless them through prayer.  Pray for God to intervene on these clearly confused souls.  I could go off all day about what I think of what ISIS is doing.  I could scream and yell and rage.  But I'm told to bless and not curse... So I'll pray.  It's the only thing I can think of that seems good enough.  And I know God will listen.

What is encouraging you this week?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Verse of the Week - Jeremiah 17:9-10

The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?

“I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.”

Jeremiah 17:9-10

What is encouraging you this week?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

3 Things Debt-Free Families All Have In Common

Total consumer debt in the United States sits at $11.68 trillion as of April 2014, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by NerdWallet. Granted the number of U.S. households carrying debt dropped from 74 percent in 2000 to 69 percent in 2011; however, the households carrying debt owed 40 percent more in 2011 than in 2000.

People who are debt-free tend to possess many of the same characteristics and habits. Here are three of their most common traits:

They Don't Like Chains

King Solomon of the ancient Kingdom of Israel once said "the borrower is slave to the lender." Whenever you owe somebody else money, your income is no longer all yours. Thus, you are basically working for a reduced rate of pay.

The fact is that many of the things people buy on credit are material items that are completely unnecessary. Using credit cards masks the true value of money because no cash is actually leaving your hands at the moment of purchase. Debt-free individuals tend to use cash or debit cards for all transactions. Try this for a month and see how your spending habits change.

Download an app to track your expenditures like Level Money or Mint. Those morning lattes, lunches and drinks after work are simply bad spending habits, which you will discover add up to much more than you probably thought. Learn how to say no to friends and co-workers' invitations to eat out, and instead propose weekend picnics or even potlucks at work.

Goal-Driven Individuals

The 2013 Nielsen Global Survey of Saving and Investment Strategies found that 69 percent of respondents believed they would achieve their financial goals, but only 28 percent believed their plans to achieve said goals were sufficient.

It is much easier to save money when it is being put away for a specific purpose. A mortgage is generally considered "good debt" by financial advisers, but the more money you save for a down payment, the better terms you'll receive on a loan.

Give yourself a boost when starting to save for big-ticket purchases by doing a financial inventory. For example, use your tax return for the initial deposit into this fund or sell your future annuity or structured settlement payments and use the lump sum of cash for a starting point. The same method can be used when saving for retirement, vacations and education.

They Ask For Help

The best annual percentage yields (APY) on savings accounts are all less than one percent, according to MoneyRates. There is little to no advantage to storing your money in this fashion, but you're unfamiliar with any alternatives.

Financial advisers can be pricey to hire, so instead join financial forums online. For example, Saving Advice allows you to post questions and engage in discussion with other members about any financial topic. You can also click on and read the old threads if your topic has already been discussed. StockRants is a great place for discussion about hot and safe stocks if you're simply looking to store your money with potential to earn more than a savings account would pay. Wilmott is another forum to consider when looking for savings options.

Being debt-free is a choice that requires honesty, sacrifice and discipline. No matter how much you owe, once you make that life-changing decision, you can get out of debt and stay out of debt. Share these tips with your family and children to discuss your financial habits and plans—this just may secure their financial futures as well.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Verse of the Week - Proverbs 15:16

Hope Valley, California

Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. 
Proverbs 15:16 NIV

What is encouraging you this week?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Angry Birds Comics - Squawk!

I'm always so grateful for the people at Rovio. As you know, we have formed a bit of a relationship with them as they have continued to show kindness to our Little Bug.  And once again, they have managed to put a ginormous smile on Bug's face - he loves the birds!

When Bug saw an envelope from Finland arrive he got very excited.

When we opened it to see another envelope with "To Bug!" written on it, well, he couldn't stop smiling!

What was in the envelope?  Angry Birds Comics!  The very first edition of what I am certain will be a big hit with Bug and with kids all over the world!  Bug loves it!  He's read it through a couple of times now and is keeping it safe, as if it's made of gold!  

From our family, from Bug, from me... Rovio, thank you again!

Monday, June 30, 2014

You Don't Have to Explain

Do you ever have those times in life where you just get so sick of attempting to explain yourself to people that you decide you're just done?  Those moments when you realize that explaining isn't going to do any good because people aren't going to listen anyhow?

I think a lot of autism parents go through this.  We work so hard with our kids to make the world a safer place for them and we work so hard to get our kids to the point where they can enjoy the world without a panic, meltdown, or worse, that when someone comes along and questions every action we make it just takes us to a place that isn't pretty.

Back in the day, when our kids were younger, we may have argued.  We may have fought.  We may have yelled and screamed.

But now our kids are getting older and we're sick of explaining it.  We're tired of repeating the same things over and over and we're tired of people not hearing us simply because their worldview goggles are so thick.  What do I mean?  I mean they see a normal looking kid who tends to act appropriately for the most part and they have no concept of what it took to get the kid to that point so they, through those super thick goggles, assume that what they see is it - nothing more to the story.  And because what they see appears one way, they refuse to understand that it may just be another way.

So when you tell those same people that you don't do certain things or you don't allow your kid to do certain things and they question it, well, you're just sick of having to explain why.

You've worked with your kid since birth.  You were there for all of that early intervention therapy.  You were at every doctor appointment.  You watched all the testing and evaluations.  You cried the tears.  You sat through hours of IEP meetings.  You still sit through the therapy.  You've read the books.  You've consulted the so-called experts.  You've sat through further testing and reevaluation just to make sure you weren't too hasty in the beginning.  You've made visual schedules and social stories so many times that you can do it in your sleep.  You've role played and gone through strategies for life skills so much that you yourself could write a book on it.  You've prayed.  You've cried some more.

You've washed, rinsed, and repeated this life to the point of exhaustion.

And you've loved through it all.  You've loved so much that your heart hurts.

And still, when you say no to something that an average neurotypical kid does, you are met with people who act like you've lost your mind.  And you're sick of explaining why.

And you know what?  You don't have to explain.  Give yourself permission to stop explaining.  That's what I'm doing.

I've shared this graphic before, but I think now is a good time to share it again.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

From Airbags to Apps: How to Make Your Teen’s First Car Safer

Most parents of teens probably remember their first car with a combination of fondness and fear. Chances are good that they plunked down a few hundred bucks for a beater car that had a ton of miles on it, a moody engine, and questionable safety features.

While junker jalopies of yore made for some memorable stories, most parents want their teens to drive something that’s a lot more dependable and sturdy. The following tips and accessories can help mom and dad make sure that their teen’s first car is reliable and safe:

Think Safety Features

As notes, parents who are buying their teens a car should look for models that have as many advanced safety features and equipment as possible. Gone are the days when working seatbelts were all that were needed to set parents’ minds at ease — moms and dads should shop for cars with air bags, electronic stability control, and anti-lock brakes.

Think Reasonable Price

Yes, your teen is probably clamoring for the latest sports car or fancy pickup truck, but these high-end cars can spell disaster for young drivers. Cars with huge engines and mega horsepower often tempt teens to drive faster and take more risks on the road, which is definitely a bad idea. On the other hand, the aforementioned beater car can break down at any time. The best option is to go with a mid-priced car that offers safety features but not a lot of power. Parents can check out some reasonable options online with their teen before heading out to the dealerships; for example, the used car section on Kelley Blue Book features a great deal of information on a wide variety of makes and models.

Think Apps

In addition to making sure your teen’s first car is as safe as possible, you also want to make sure your child is making good choices while behind the wheel. Thanks to several apps, it’s easy to do just that. The Find My iPhone app allows parents to keep tabs on their kids by alerting them where their phone is at any time. The app, which is available from the iTunes store, shows the location of the phone on a map.

Family Circle recommends TextArrest, which disables the ability for smartphones to email and text. The app can actually sense when a car is going faster than 5 miles per hour, and it will lock the phone’s screen so nothing can be sent or read while driving. The app is compatible with Android devices and the basic version is free. Safe Driver is another app that can help put parents’ minds at ease; the app, which works on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad, keeps tabs on the location and driving habits of teens and lets their folks know through an email or text when Jenny or Johnny goes over a certain speed, as well as where they were driving too fast.