Monthly Archives: October 2011

Modern Day Eugenics

It’s not uncommon for individuals and families of those diagnosed with a genetic condition to be asked to donate blood for genetic research purposes. Many do, desperately hoping and praying their participation in the project will result in the discovery of a treatment or cure to help their affected child or loved one. But these families are unaware they are actually pawns in a modern day eugenics.

God cherishes each and every baby... so must we


Deceived into believing identifying “the gene” meant hope for a treatment or even a cure, my own family participated in a blood draw about twenty years ago. Genetic research can be slow, tedious work and as the ensuing years slipped by, hope for a breakthrough dimmed.

Fast forward to April 2009 when, out of the blue, I heard from the doctor, who is considered to be the foremost expert in the world on our children’s genetic condition. He also heads the research project at the prestigious Baylor University in Texas. When he called, asking for another blood donation for the purpose of continuing the work, he told me they had run out of our samples and felt they were very, very close to discovering a completely “new” gene, unique to our family. Flickering hope reignited and without hesitation, I agreed. Soon, a package containing vials and consent forms was on it’s way to our doorstep.

Curious as to the status of the research, and since the doctor had mentioned the name of a fellow researcher at Duke University who was focused on working to discover “our” gene, I Googled. Checking online sources, I soon found a paper detailing the researcher’s work on our children’s genetic condition originating from a presentation he gave to colleagues. It was an eye-opening read. As I read, the truth became crystal clear. My hope was snuffed out, stomped and drowned by buckets of betrayal. I was stunned and bitterly disappointed to discover there’s no hope of preventing, treating or reversing blindness, physical or mental disabilities or any of the other symptoms associated with the condition. NO HOPE. Absolutely no hope, at all.

Because it’s a rare syndrome, funding is extremely limited, but beyond that and contrary to everything we were led to believe, the researchers and experts, themselves, admit the likelihood of a cure or treatment for any of the associated health problems is non-existent. It’s nothing more than a fairy tale told to desired blood donors to exchange false hope for vials of blood – potentially worth a fortune.

I learned the only expected outcome of the research described is in the development a screening test for use prenatally… to identify unborn children with the condition. Surely an end goal of enormous financial benefit to the researchers, universities, and most certainly the genetic testing and abortion industries, which is the ONLY reason why the research has continued all these years. It is fueled by their expectation of a big financial payoff down the road. No one had mentioned this fact to me… ever, and the stack of consent forms accompanying the vials conveniently omitted this information, as well.

“Their throats are open graves. Their tongues practice deception. Their lips hide the venom of poisonous snakes.”–Romans 3:13 (God’s Word Translation)

Undoubtedly, our unwitting participation in the genetic research project would eventually result in the creation of a test designed to identify this condition in unborn children and facilitate the murder of God only knows how many innocents.

This raises serious moral and ethical concerns because many pregnant women undergoing genetic testing and counseling could – and do – decide not to carry what they perceive to be a “defective” child to term. Such a decision could be based on misinformation, false perceptions, prejudice or fear about the quality of life for children with disabilities… or even unreliable test results. Prenatal genetic testing, which can now include approximately 6,000 so-called “defects”, stacks the deck against the unborn child. It puts the mother in a position of being pressured to quickly make the decision so the child can be aborted, while she is still processing the shock of the test results and fear of the unknown.

When a child is born who has a challenge, it is not always evident at birth. Often, it may be many years before the condition is apparent and a vast number of so-called “defects” are not life-threatening or even life-altering. Without prenatal genetic testing, the natural process of forging the mother and child’s bond of love is able to progress, as God intended. Someday, when the challenge presents itself, the family does the best they can to deal with the situation because the child is loved and rightfully viewed as part of themselves.

Families, like ours, with exceptionally challenged children, experience life’s ups and downs… triumphs and difficulties… joys and heartbreaks… just like any other family. Our children are normal. Just like everyone else, they deserve equal respect… and the opportunity to enjoy their God-given right to Life. These children are a precious gift from God. They are truly a blessing to our lives. How empty our lives would be without these children my husband and I deeply respect, admire, cherish, adore and love so dearly. They are our family and our life.

The very thought that our family’s blood, given in good faith, could ever be used for such a detestable, evil purpose, contrary to our Christian moral beliefs and without our knowledge or consent is unthinkable, inexcusable and absolutely infuriating. Genetic research is the new genocide. It threatens to exterminate an entire social class of people who do not fit into society’s ideal of “normal”… those who are viewed as “defective”… those who are labeled as mentally or physically disabled. It is disability racism… the extermination of an ‘undesired’ population group… which is eugenics:

“Indeed, parents of babies diagnosed prenatally with DS [Downs Syndrome] reported in the study mentioned above that 23 percent of the physicians or genetics counselors they spoke with either “emphasized the negative” aspects of parenting such children or “urged” parents to choose abortion.”–Politically Correct Eugenics by Wesley J. Smith, published in the Weekly Standard

“Still, social policy may be unable to sway a seemingly strong personal preference for avoiding children with perceived genetic defects. About 90 percent of women who learn they are carrying a fetus with the extra 21st chromosome that causes Down syndrome choose an abortion. Studies have shown that many women choose to abort for diagnoses of less serious conditions.”–Genetic Testing + Abortion = ??? by Amy Harmon, New York Times

“There are troublesome implications to those statistics and the new testing,” says Dr. Mary Mahowald, a University of Chicago ethicist. “They suggest an attitude that deems the lives of people with disabilities not worth living. They’re also troublesome because the fewer people with disabilities there are, the more likely they are to be victims of discrimination.”–Baylor Offers Fetal DNA Test Sheds Light, But Stirs an Ethical Battle by Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle

Upon learning the truth, I immediately telephoned the doctor at Baylor University to inform him we would NOT be a part of any effort to identify the gene, now knowing the intended use for the information would be the development of such a test – one that could and would undoubtedly be used as a “reason” to abort children. He made no attempt whatsoever to deny the facts – nor did he even bother to offer an apology for the deception.

After our conversation, I immediately followed through to ensure that our family’s past participation would likewise be purged from their files and records, along with any remaining blood samples in their possession. Had we trustingly and unknowingly contributed the requested blood to this research project – with an end result of facilitating the discovery of a prenatal test, it would have been devastating to know our family was indirectly responsible for the abortion deaths of untold numbers of innocent unborn children as well as the lifelong guilt and emotional suffering abortion wrecks on the parents’ lives. This is the face of modern day eugenics… right here, in the “land of the free”.

I firmly believe it is unethical for genetic researchers to deliberately deceive and exploit donor families by omission – but that is exactly what’s happening. The genetic research industry is deliberately deceiving potential blood donors by employing fabricated lies manufactured for the sole purpose of manipulating and exploiting families like ours. Because they are not providing full disclosure, families and individual blood donors are denied the opportunity to make a fully informed decision as to whether or not they wish to participate. This is morally and ethically wrong.

“In any event, in the minds of many ethicists, the testing suggests the arrival of a new eugenics, not state-run but voluntary. They debate whether it’s a “good or bad eugenics,” noting that before Adolf Hitler gave it a bad name, eugenics was science’s hope for a better future, the answer to economic inequities and social ills.”–Baylor Offers Fetal DNA Test Sheds Light, But Stirs an Ethical Battle by Todd Ackerman, Houston Chronicle

Families asked to participate in genetic research deserve honesty with the respect and right of full disclosure so as to avoid violating their personal ethics, religious and moral beliefs.

As a Christian mother devoted to protecting ALL unborn children, I would like to see legislation written to require Full Disclosure notification to all families and individuals, who are either solicited to participate or who are seeking inclusion in any genetic research project – as well as to all past and present participants. The whole truth must be provided so each and every participant fully understands the possibility their cooperation in efforts to identify specific genes could result – or already has resulted – in a screening test used to identify and abort unborn children who carry the same gene. It must be clearly given both verbally and in writing to each participant to prevent any individual from being unwittingly exploited. Anything less than full disclosure is unethical and unacceptable.

“Let it not seem to you that one of these little ones is of no value; for I say unto you that in heaven their angels see at all times the face of my Father in heaven.”–Matthew 18:10 (Bible in Basic English)

“The King will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth:  Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant [they seemed], you did for me’”–Matthew 25:40 (God’s Word Translation)

There is a clear choice to be made:  either you believe in LIFE… or you believe it is OK to kill babies. Will you stand up for all unborn children – or look the other way? Please share this message with others.

God cherishes, each and every baby, born or unborn… so must we.

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Dehumanizing People

Last year, the Wisconsin legislature expanded the scope of sex-education in our state when they passed 2009 Wisconsin Act 134 into law. It is a controversial change because local school boards choosing to teach Human Growth and Development lost their ability to teach abstinence before marriage without forced inclusion of Planned Parenthood-style comprehensive sex-ed, as a result of the so-called Healthy Youth Act of 2009.

Now, many public schools are including, at the very least, discussions on the issue of abortion. In some school districts, Planned Parenthood, or other like-minded groups, are actually allowed into classrooms to “teach” these sensitive topics, giving them the opportunity for financial gain as they cultivate students’ trust while undermining family values.

In schools across the country, districts using GLENCOE Education in Sexuality textbooks, are subverting some students’ Christian, Pro-Life values by introducing a grey area concept in what is, and should be, a black and white issue. In teacher-led discussion, the class analyzes three different viewpoints on abortion… yes, three: against, in favor, and what they call “A Third View”.

Follows is an excerpt:

Some people believe that abortion should be legal in special cases. Those cases include pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest, when the physical health and life of the pregnant female is in danger, and if certain severe birth defects are confirmed. These people feel that abortions for any other reason should be illegal.

The GLENCOE book limits the topic to a couple of pages and an exercise explicitly designed to expose students’ personal beliefs on the issue and, for those who are identified as holding beliefs against abortion, it tries to weaken their resolve. In question three, it misleads students as the wording attempts to equate using contraceptives with abstinence in reducing pregnancy risk:

EXPLORING YOUR VIEWS
1. What is your view on abortion?
2. Are there certain circumstances when you think abortion might be justified? Explain your answer.
3. How would practicing abstinence or using reliable contraception reduce the need for abortions?”
–Lesson 2 Concerns About Sexuality, GLENCOE Education in Sexuality, Chapter 6:  Issues of Sexuality, pg 96 (1999)

mother and child

Life is a gift from God

The so called Third View endorses abortion without addressing the alternative of adoption and its benefits. It ignores factual information on the risk to the physical health and life of the woman undergoing an abortion.

Inclusion of the phrase “if certain severe birth defects are confirmed” as a legitimate reason to support abortion in “special cases” becomes an open door to the idea that unborn babies who are determined to have some sort of physical or mental “defect” are somehow less entitled to live their lives than those individuals who are deemed “normal” by society. I believe this teaching is, by design, intended to undermine the beliefs of Pro-Life students who believe abortion is wrong, by slipping a seed of doubt into their minds… by way of suggesting it could be justified in certain situations.

The Third View notion that these abortions are only being performed in cases of “severe birth defects” is far from accurate as it is clearly outdated. Since this book was first published in 1987, and even it’s more recent update in 1999, the science of gene mapping has progressed far beyond just identifying “severe birth defects” through in utero, prenatal testing to now include literally thousands of conditions, many resulting in milder or even no disabilities at all.

What is not explained in the GLENCOE textbook is how often, when abortions are performed due to the discovery of some sort of birth defect in the unborn child, it occurs in the second – or even third trimester of the pregnancy to infants who could be considered viable, if given the opportunity to live. This is commonly referred to as a partial-birth abortion. Instead, the focus of this high school textbook is targeted to promote a woman-centered justification for abortion, while ignoring the brutal reality inflicted upon the unborn child.

If the student adopts the belief it is OK to abort so-called “defective” babies from the womb, as the Third View clearly suggests, their thinking is on the slippery slope to accepting a suggestion it is also OK deny these infants and individuals food, water or medical attention after they are born… or even go as far as to euthanize them as though they were unwanted stray dogs. You see, that’s the trouble with the slippery slope. Just like the Serpent in the Garden of Eden poisoned Eve’s mind until she was convinced to take just one bite of the forbidden fruit, when cleverly deceptive persuasion – and perhaps some classroom peer pressure – are allowed to weaken moral beliefs by swaying young people’s thinking on the issue, inclusion of the Third View “seed” in public school sex-ed curriculums has found fertile ground and accomplished its evil goal.

The so-called Third View is dangerous because it dehumanizes people.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”–Jeremiah 1:5 (God’s Word Translation)

“Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the works of God might be revealed in him.”–John 9:3 (International Standard Version)

When a child is identified with a physical or mental challenge, some people wrongly want to assign blame. It is those who, by their own lack of understanding, prejudices, biases, fears and arrogance, brutishly view mentally or physically challenged individuals as inferior.

God doesn’t make mistakes. He is all knowing and perfect. We may not understand the reason why some are born facing lifelong challenges, but must trust that God creates each and every person for a purpose. As His children, He values each of us equally. We must learn to do the same.

The Third View condones and exploits discrimination against special needs people, advancing the cruel belief they are less entitled to live their God-given life. We must remember Planned Parenthood is the driving force behind comprehensive sex-ed in the public schools… the same Planned Parenthood who is the single largest abortion provider in the nation… and who stands to gain financially if they convince young people it’s OK to condemn to death unborn babies viewed as less than “perfect”.

I do not believe the morality discussion related to abortion belongs in public school classrooms. That is, unless students are presented with the whole truth about abortion. Factual, medically accurate information which includes: photographic evidence of the baby’s developmental stages in the womb; exactly what happens to the child during an abortion; photographs of aborted babies; immediate and long-term medical and psychological risks to the mother’s health caused by the abortion, including the risk of death. Without this material to ensure a balanced handling of this controversial issue, we are doing a great disservice to students.

Inclusion of this Third View – whether through the GLENCOE book or another source – in a school district’s curriculum clearly creates a bias against children with disabilities by justifying the false belief their lives are somehow less valuable than so-called “normal” people. It demeans special needs people to the status of second class citizens – while sending the message it is acceptable to play God and deny these unborn children LIFE.

Wisconsin’s Human Growth and Development (HG&D) law clearly states schools “cannot use instructional materials that promote bias against… children with disabilities”. Wouldn’t a classroom discussion encompassing the belief that unborn children with disabilities can simply be disposed of by denying them life – in and of itself- create a bias against these very individuals? This is unacceptable and, I believe, is a clear violation of the non-discrimination clause emphasized within state statutes pertaining to Human Growth and Development instruction.

Aside from this, it is my belief high school students lack the maturity and understanding to discuss and comprehend the ramifications of this issue, especially when presented almost exclusively from the pro-Planned Parenthood viewpoint. This is indoctrination. Furthermore, the Third View could cause some impressionable students, particularly those who may not have a family background firmly rooted in faith, to adopt a dangerous, discriminatory view of physically or mentally challenged people being somehow less worthy of life.

Whatever became of teaching children to respect others? …To care for and protect those who cannot do so for themselves? …To value LIFE? …To live according to God’s command:  “Never murder” (God’s Word Translation).

Where is our society and our country headed?

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”–Luke 6:31 (New International Version)

Blessings Sent in Disguise

Learning a precious child or other family member is afflicted with a health problem can turn everyone’s life upside down. A parent’s natural reaction is to move heaven and earth in an effort to do whatever it takes to solve the problem… to make things better. But that’s not always possible. When the source of the affliction is determined to be genetic, it can – and often does – send families into an emotional tail spin as they work through the stages of grief:

  • First, sets in the initial shock: asking “how could this happen to us?” questions;
  • Then denial: “oh, there must be a mistake”;
  • Often followed by blame and finger pointing: “well, it couldn’t have come from my side of the family”;
  • A sense of despondency, guilt and depression may flood in as parents mistakenly wonder: “Why is God punishing my innocent child?”;
  • Next, there’s a realization of loss, the what will never-bees: “my child will never play baseball, go to college, marry or have a family of his own… and we’ll never know the joys of becoming grandparents.”;
  • And finally, acceptance.

I believe this is a normal and natural process, similar to what people experience whenever they face any unexpected life challenge. It takes time to work through this process. The “never-bees” can be extremely painful and difficult for many parents and families to work through. Why is that? Because as the child reaches each life event age, the “never-bees” can unexpectedly trigger a new flood of grief.

For some, it may take years to work through the grief process. Others may never reach the end of this tunnel to the point where they can accept whatever it may be and, once again, walk into the sunlight.

God never promised us rainbows and roses as we journey along life’s path. The test is how do we react when we come face-to-face with life’s obstacles? Do we allow seeds of bitterness and self-pity to be planted and take root in our hearts? For a season or two, we may, as I know it can be difficult to avoid the pitfalls, after all, we are only human. But it is far better to take our troubles to Jesus, right from the start. There’s an age-old hymn I’d like to share:

I have been through the valley of sorrow and weeping,
The valley of trouble and pain;
But the “God of all comfort,” the “God of all comfort,”
Was with me to hold and sustain.

My beloved Grandma was a strong Christian woman who was no stranger to life’s disappointments, tribulations, pain, loss and suffering, but by her unshakable faith in Jesus Christ, she was able to navigate these heartaches and challenges with the help of her Bible and the power of prayer.

After she passed on to Heaven’s pearly gates, I was honored to be given her well-worn Bible, falling apart at the seams and full of handwritten notes. She wrote the verse of this old-time hymn inside the cover, followed by the words:  “yes, Lord I know”.

blessing

My Blessing

When my first child was just a toddler, I’ll always remember a day when we visited Grandma, who lovingly held the young girl on her lap as she sweetly sang Jesus Loves Me.

By then, I was well aware of some of my daughter’s challenges and special needs, as was Grandma. I’ll never forget what she told me that day as she gently shared a piece of wisdom gained from a lifetime of experience and unshakable faith:  “God gives Special Children to Special Moms. Dear Loretta, know that God never gives us more of a burden than what we can bear.” 

The old hymn continues:

Yet how often we shrink from the purging and pruning,
Forgetting the Husbandman knows
That the deeper and closer the cutting and paring,
The richer the cluster that grows.

At the time, I was young, still wrestling the never-bees and not quite ready or able to see past my disappointments in spite of my deep love for my child.

It was, however, not long afterwards when out of the blue on a Tuesday afternoon, there was a knock at our door. To my surprise, there stood the pastor from a small country church we were attending and another man whom he introduced as simply “a Prophet”. Having been raised attending very traditional churches all my life, I’d never met a prophet before – and quite frankly, did not even realize there was such a thing as modern day prophets.

We had a brief conversation as I held our daughter, not quite sure what to make of it all. But before departing, the Prophet looked at me and said something I’ll never forget:  “This child is a blessing from God.”  And truer words were never spoken. Indeed, she is a precious gift from above.

As we travel the pathway thru life’s shadowed valleys,
Fresh springs of His love ever rise;
And we learn that our troubles, our sorrows and losses,
Are blessings just sent in disguise.

Roadmap to Financial Freedom

(Yesterday, I published Debt Makes Slaves of Those Who Owe, part one. Today, I hope to answer the question:  How does a person get out of debt?)

Let’s budget… did I hear moaning? Don’t worry, it’s really not difficult… you’ll see.

But, before you can make any decisions on how you’ll handle your money you’ve got to see the big picture and understand where your money is going, on a monthly basis. If you don’t take the time to do this, it’s like driving blindfolded.

Gather up some sticky notes, a pen, calculator and your bills. Separate out necessities such as your mortgage or rent payment, taxes, child support obligations, your church tithes, insurances, utilities, food, medical and car expenses. Label that stack “NEEDS”.

The second stack should be your credit card bills along with any loans you may have such as:  extra vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles, campers, boats, a cabin, student or other types of personal loans… whatever it may be. Label that stack “WANTS”.

If you have other types of monthly expenditures, such as cellphones, internet service, newspaper subscriptions, music or dance lessons, karate classes, a membership at the athletic club, etc… This stack is labeled “EXTRAS”.

Write down what you spend on a regular basis such as:  restaurant meals, fancy coffees on the way to work, what you spend at the bar, cigarettes, trips to the hair salon, and other incidentals. Label this stack “HABITS”.

You may need to carry a small pad of paper and a pen with you for a week or so and actually record what you are spending, as most people underestimate what they think they are spending on these incidentals. Keeping track by jotting them down will help you to realize how these items actually add up.

When you are satisfied you have all of your data, tally up what you owe or spend for each category, along with a grand total and write it down.

Next, figure out your monthly income. Hopefully, that number is larger than what you owe. But even if it isn’t, you can fix it.

It’s time, now, to prioritize. By separating your obligations into these piles, you’ve already begun. The NEEDS stack is a given. Subtract that total from your income.

Then, take a critical look at the items in your WANTS stack. Ask yourself how often do your actually use each item. Look at your loan balances. Think about what you can do without… what can be eliminated. Maybe you can sell some of the things adding to your debt load. Do it.

Now, if you’re really serious about getting out of debt and attaining financial freedom for yourself and your family, sell everything on your WANTS list that is a tangible asset. In other words, if there’s something you can stick a “For Sale” sign on, do it.

Trust me. The sacrifices are only temporary. Go ahead, call up the newspaper and write up your classified ads to sell that stuff you can’t afford… the things which are weighting you down, keeping your head under water and your life in bondage to debt.

Carefully look at each item left in your WANTS stack to determine what interest rate you’re being charged. Chances are, you are paying the highest interest on your credit cards. But whatever the case may be, arrange your stack with the highest interest items on top and the lowest on the bottom. Make a list recording the bill with the highest interest on the top, then the next highest, and so forth. This is your WANTS LIST.

You’ve just prioritized your debts.

Arrange your EXTRAS stack according to what’s most important to your family. Eliminate as many of the less important items as possible.

If you have a child who takes dance, piano or karate lessons, perhaps he or she can find a part-time job to pay for it. If they are too young, maybe you can request family members consider gifting the child with cash or a gift certificate from the business at birthdays or Christmas to cover or defray the expense. A child is never too young to begin learning the value of a dollar, goal setting and personal responsibility.

Take the same approach with your own items on the EXTRAS list. If there are little ones in your home, you will be setting a good example for them to follow.

Depending on your circumstances, you may have to entirely eliminate your HABITS list. I’d strongly recommend doing so. Remember, it’s not forever. If you give up these HABITS, at least for now, it will speed up the process, enabling you to become debt free sooner.

If you have credit cards, stop using them and cut them up, if necessary. I know, that’s plain old common sense. But many people are addicted to reaching for their plastic and by destroying the credit cards, it lessens the temptation and risk of ending up farther in debt. The rain has to stop before you can succeed at bailing the boat out.

Although I believe in building a savings account, if you have a heavy debt load, you may be better off temporarily applying your resources to becoming debt-free because most likely the amount of money you are paying in interest, alone, is probably greater than the amount of interest you are likely to earn on a savings account. So it makes sense to put your resources where they will do the most good. But I should emphasize, as soon as you do get some breathing room… some relief from your debt, get in the habit of making regular contributions to your savings.

Now you can begin to get yourself out of debt.

Each month, after you’ve first met all of your NEEDS obligations, pay the minimum amount due on each of the remaining WANTS items, except for the one bill at the top of your WANTS LIST. This debt item becomes your TARGET to pay off as quickly as possible by making double or triple payments… or even just an extra $100, $50, or $25 a month. When you sell anything from your WANTS list, be sure you pay off the remaining loan balance, then, if there is any extra money, apply it to your TARGET. Likewise, all of the funds you’ve freed up by eliminating WANTS, EXTRAS and HABIT items are to be paid to the one debt item you’ve identified to TARGET.

Of course, it goes without saying, always pay your bills on time… or early, if possible. But I said it anyway.  By paying your debts as soon as you’re able, rather than waiting until the due date, you can save yourself some interest charges. A little each month adds up over the long run.

Once you accomplish your goal of paying off that first TARGET, cross it off your WANTS LIST and pat yourself on the back. Congratulations on your first success!

When the next month comes along, take the monies you were using to pay on your first TARGET item’s debt and add it to the minimum amount due on your second TARGET item. As you begin to pay off these TARGET items, one by one, you will gain momentum because you’ll actually have more available income to use towards paying off your next TARGET. And the quicker you are able to bring down the credit card or loan balances, the less interest it will cost, so you’ll save money and come out ahead.

If you stick with it, it won’t be long before you will see the fruits of your labor and if you are determined and committed to becoming debt-free, you will get there.

After you have paid off and eliminated all debt associated with your WANTS LIST, set your sights on your NEEDS list, applying the same principles to paying off your vehicle or family vehicles, then work on your mortgage, if you have one.

Now comes the fun part of getting your finances in order and learning how to manage them responsibly, so you can avoid debt in the future.

After you succeed at getting yourself out of debt, put these same principles to work for you in setting aside money for your savings to build up a nest egg. And likewise, consider setting up a special savings account earmarked for a specific purpose – so you can afford to pay cash for things you used to go into debt to purchase.

Of course, there may be times when you can’t avoid debt, such as the purchase of a home or replacing a car, for instance. However, by planning ahead and earmarking some of your savings for these purposes, you can at least have a down payment for these major purchases. If you do get a loan, pay it off as quickly as you can.

Living within your means is simply spending less than what you earn. If you get a raise or a better job, continue to live as you did before. Spending less than what you earn allows you to set aside money in your savings… and, with faith and obedience to God, you can enjoy prosperity. Life is full of expenses so you really cannot afford not to save.

Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another.–Romans 13:8a (NLT)

Personal finance management is all about making wise choices, walking in faith and obedience to God, exercising restraint by living within your means… and always remembering:  Debt makes slaves of those who owe. I wish you peace and prosperity.

Debt Makes Slaves of Those Who Owe

As I was growing up, like most children, I had a piggy bank. I learned from an early age how to save my money, putting it away for the proverbial “rainy day”. At birthdays, when my grandparents would tuck some paper money into my birthday card, I fed the piggy. Spare change, allowances, change from a treat at the dime store, a coin found on the sidewalk… I fed the piggy. From time to time, my dad would lay newspaper out on the floor, open my bank and help me count the money, then carefully, we’d sort and put the coins into paper “rolls” to be deposited into my bank account. Over time, my account passbook tally grew… with interest… and I learned an important life lesson: how to manage money.

I landed my first “real” job at fourteen years old at the corner drug store. Sure, I had earned money babysitting, mowing lawns and managing my own Kool-aid stands, like most kids, but this was a “real” job paying $1.25 an hour. I used my meager paychecks to purchase my own clothes and still managed to squirrel some into my saving account.

At seventeen, I had saved enough pennies, and nickles, and dimes and quarters… and dollars… to pay cash for my first automobile: a 1972 Buick Skylark with a 350 cubic inch engine… and I did it without emptying my account.

My parents taught me the value of a dollar. How to set goals and achieve them. They gave me the life-long gift of learning how to handle money responsibly.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.–Proverbs 22:6 (American King James Version)

As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children how to exercise good stewardship of their money. By teaching them the principles of good money management from an early age, we can help prevent them from going astray by making poor money decisions as adults.

It’s important that we remember to set a good example for our children to follow, by managing our own finances responsibly. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to keep your head above water – especially, if you weren’t taught how to handle money, yourself.

Remember in the classic old movie, The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy closed her eyes and repeated “There’s no place like home” as she clicked the heels of her ruby slippers three times? She awoke, her problems were solved, the sun was shining, she was surrounded by her family, friends, and of course, her little dog Toto… and she was back in Kansas. You see, as Glenda told her, she had the ability to change her life all along. It’s something we all possess: free will.

We just have to stop compounding our problems and change our mindset… change our way of thinking about how we manage our money. Stop allowing yourself to be held hostage to your finances and take control. You can do it… and you don’t even need a pair of ruby slippers.

As long as you are a slave to debt, you cannot prosper.

What do I mean by that… what does it mean to be a slave to debt?

When a person is in debt, they are legally obligated to pay off that debt, plus interest. The debt owed becomes money the person no longer has any control over, so there’s a loss of freedom on the part of the debtor… plus the additional money to be paid in interest, are given to the creditor. In other words, the debtor’s productivity belongs his creditor. The debtor, in effect, will be working by the sweat of his brow for the creditor while he’s paying back the loan, but also while he’s earning the additional money to pay the interest on that loan.

The man of wealth has rule over the poor, and he who gets into debt is a servant to his creditor.–Proverbs 22:7 (Bible in Basic English)

As long as a person owes a debt, they do not actually own whatever the item may be on which they are making payments. This is what’s meant by saying a person’s wealth is on paper. Their name may be on the papers, but if they do not meet the terms of the obligation… the loan, they’ll find our very quickly exactly who owns it when the lender, who has the legal right to repossess or foreclose, does so. Basically, until the things a person is in debt for are completely paid in full, he doesn’t actually own them. This is why a person who is in debt cannot prosper… because debt stands in the way of prosperity.

Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous cause: yes, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.–Psalm 35:27 (American King James Version)

Isn’t it great to know God takes pleasure in our prosperity?

In the secular world, prosperity is generally believed to mean having wealth, fame and prestige. We see people in the world who seemingly have insatiable appetites for riches and things. They seem to be driven by materialism, yet no mater how incredibly wealthy they become, they are never satisfied. The reality is money, riches and possessions do not make a person prosperous.

True prosperity is far more than just being successful or financially secure because it describes a state of the soul. The Biblical meaning also includes: to have joy, health, and to see progress in all we undertake… peace of mind. Ask yourself, what good is wealth, if the person is miserable? True prosperity is rooted in faith and obedience to God’s Word.

Do you remember the old Sunday school song, The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock? This is about prosperity. In the song, the foolish man built his house upon the sand and met calamity. But the obedient man built his house on the Lord Jesus Christ and he received blessings. Joy, good health, success and financial security are blessings and they are the evidence of Biblical… true prosperity.

Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.–3 John 1:2 (New American Standard Bible)

Think about how your family’s life could improve if your were living debt-free and were able to set aside a nest egg to purchase your next vehicle with cash, take a special family trip… and save for your retirement. Having peace of mind in knowing when life’s unexpected calamities come knocking at your door, you will have the resources available to deal with them. How fantastic to be out from under the crushing weight of the debt burden you carry on your shoulders and drag along day by day shackled to your ankles and wrists!

Freedom! That’s the feeling of financial freedom.

Most people are shackled by debt. The lion’s share of what they earn goes to making payments and they struggle to make ends meet. If anything upsets the apple cart, they’re in trouble. The downward spiral can quickly get out of control and spill over into other areas of a person’s life. Consequently, money problems are often a contributing factor to divorce.

I’ve seen this happen to a family member. Like most people, they had a mortgage and car payments, then the husband went into debt to start a business. It takes time to get a business off the ground… more time than he expected. In order to keep things going, he relied on credit cards… maxing out several. Big mistake. The interest alone was a crushing burden.

After the divorce, it took the wife years to dig out from under her share of the debt. At one point, she was so overwhelmed by bills, she would put them into a plastic ice cream bucket, then draw one out at a time as she was able to come up with the money. Eventually, with perseverance, she succeeded, but it was not easy and it took a lot of determination and self-discipline.

What’s easy is getting into financial trouble. It’s easy… far too easy to get approved for credit – often, even if you don’t have a job or the income to justify it. We live in an impatient world where everyone wants instant gratification. Why wait? Why deny yourself that luxury you deserve? There’s simply too much “keeping up with the Jones”… which is envy. Everyone wants everything… now… which is coveting.

The temptations to buy and unwisely spend money we don’t have for things we really don’t need bombards us on a daily basis. This can lead to impulse buying, which is exactly what advertisers count on – and is why advertising is such a booming business.

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”–Luke 12:15 (New International Version)

A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have.–1 Timothy 6:6 (God’s Word Translation)

So where to start?… How does a person get out of debt?

Stay tuned. My next entry, A Roadmap to Financial Freedom, will show the way.

Boil the Frog Slowly: Staking Claims on the Next Generation

It’s said you can boil a frog alive by simply putting it in a pot of water, then slowly turn the heat up. Incrementalism is a tactic employed to fundamentally transform our nation… our communities… our schools… and even our families, right before our eyes.

The public education industry – from most teacher colleges to teacher unions to the state departments of education to the federal Department of Education – is, without a doubt, predominantly Leftist in philosophy. Instead of teaching students to become self-sufficient, creative and competent individuals, they adhere to John Dewey’s anti-American ideal of schools instructing pupils into a “collective and cooperative mentality”, as was the educational model in Soviet Russia. John Dewey was a self-described Socialist, co-author of the Humanist Manifesto and credited as the father of Progressive Education.

Incrementalism has been employed within our public schools for several decades as a means to advance the progressive agenda of social change. Schools believe they know what’s best for children and since they are the enlightened experts parents must be conditioned to bend to their will. As schools have incrementally claimed more authority over our children, parents, for the most part, have taken the back seat… voluntarily, cooperatively and unaware of the shift.

Boil the frog slowly.

Gradually, over a span of decades, schools have consumed an ever-increasing portion of children’s lives under the guise of benevolence, socialization and well-being:  school lunch and breakfast programs, before and after school programs, preschool programs, SAGE, Lighted Schoolhouse, a wide array of extra-curricular activities, summer school, guidance counseling, sex-ed, school-based health clinics… the list goes on and on. Once a new program has a foothold, it becomes nearly impossible to get rid of it without a well-orchestrated outcry of protest arising from parents, after all, letting the school provide their children with free meals… or daycare… or advice on child-rearing… or… well, you fill-in-the-blank makes life easier for parents, so why not let the school district help out, after all, it’s for the children… right?… and it’s free, so why not take advantage of it?

Well, it’s not free. There is a price to pay:  the taxpayers pay for it… but so do the parents… and ultimately, the children… and society as a whole.

It may not, mind you, necessarily be “bad” to have some of these programs, but the ever-expanding reach of the public schools has trespassed far beyond it’s primary purpose of educating children to read and write and do arithmetic – which many schools are failing to do – and has become outright meddling and intruding upon the sacred domain of the family, where they are infringing on parental rights. We have a problem of great magnitude. Parental rights are under attack not only locally, but also from state and federal governments, by special interest groups and even internationally through efforts spearheaded by the United Nations.

And most parents are completely oblivious to this fact.

Boil the frog slowly.

A Virginia-based non-profit, PARENTALRIGHTS.org has a goal of Protecting Children by Empowering Parents. They are diligently working to achieve the addition of a Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The proposed text is as follows:

The liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children is a fundamental right.

Neither the United States nor any state shall infringe upon this right without demonstrating that its governmental interest as applied to the person is of the highest order and not otherwise served.

No treaty may be adopted nor shall any source of international law be employed to supersede, modify, interpret, or apply to the rights guaranteed by this article.

The reference to international law is an effort to prevent the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) treaty from ever over-riding our Constitution and U.S. or state laws. Under this treaty:

  1.  Children would have the ability to choose their own religion while parents would only have the authority to give their children advice about religion.
  2. The best interest of the child would give the government the ability to override every decision made by every parent if a government worker disagreed with the parent’s decision.
  3. A child’s “right to be heard” would allow him (or her) to seek governmental review of every parental decision with which the child disagreed.
  4. According to existing interpretation, it would be illegal for a nation to spend more on national defense than it does on children’s welfare.
  5. Children would acquire a legally enforceable right to leisure.
  6. Christian schools that refuse to teach “alternative worldviews” and teach that Christianity is the only true religion “fly in the face of article 29” of the treaty.
  7. Allowing parents to opt their children out of sex education has been held to be out of compliance with the CRC.
  8. Children would have the right to reproductive health information and services, including abortions, without parental knowledge or consent.
  9. Parents would no longer be able to administer reasonable spankings to their children.
  10. A murderer aged 17 years and 11 months and 29 days at the time of his crime could no longer be sentenced to life in prison.

How can we help protect parental rights? We can all help by raising awareness on the issue and by contacting our U.S. Representatives and Senators, asking them to support the Parental Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Wisconsin Family Action supports this effort and can be contacted on this or any family, life or liberty issue here, in Wisconsin.

Parental rights are also at stake each time your local school board agrees to participate in a state or federal program because when they vote to sign the contract, they are, in effect, exchanging an additional measure of control over decision making and pupil privacy for dollars. Too often, the “carrot” is enough for administrators and school boards to eagerly hop on board – without understanding the consequences or even reading the documents. In reality, the money offered is rarely enough to actually cover the costs, so taxpayers pay more. And so, we often hear school boards and administrators complain about “unfunded mandates”.

As President Ronald Reagan so brilliantly described it:

“We developed at the local school district level probably the best public school system in the world. Or it was until the Federal government added Federal interference to Federal financial aid and eroded educational quality in the process.”

A case in point is the federal “Race to the Top” program, most recent in a litany of government initiated so-called “education reforms”, where states compete against each other to be awarded funding in exchange for contracts granting the federal government more control over local school operational decisions.

To most school boards and administrators – as well as state legislators and governors, eager to increase district funding and who are easily swayed by the hype, the carrot on the stick was enough to get them to sign on the dotted line. The terms of the binding MOU were vague and did not explain exactly what would be required of school districts, nor did it contain a specified end date. In effect, school boards and administrators were signing a blank contract.

Through my research, it became apparent the money being offered would not begin to cover the costs – and far worse, was the loss of privacy and control inherent with the program.

One of the mandates under Race to the Top, demands each student and teacher be “profiled”. Tell me, why is it OK to profile our children and teachers – but not terrorists?

Fortunately, Wisconsin did not make the cut last year in the “Race to the Top”. However, it’s expected  there will be another round beginning soon, this time targeted at our very youngest children. Pray we may be so lucky as to dodge the bullet again and that Congress will finally take a stand and stop the insane spending.

Many efforts to erode parental authority are not accompanied with the fanfare of a federal program promising the pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow. They occur quietly, where you least suspect it. This is why it is vitally important for parents to be involved with their children’s education.

How often, do parents of children attending public schools, relinquish their rights to teachers, school administrators, school psychologists or guidance counselors because they are viewed as the “experts”? Maybe, just maybe the parent lacks the self-confidence to challenge them? Or, perhaps, parents simply trust them to do the right thing and it never occurs to them to suspect otherwise? Ask yourself, are you so sure the school agrees with your personal set of values and morals? Sometimes, parents are afraid to speak up because they don’t want to rock the boat… they feel intimidated… they don’t want to be singled out – or risk their child suffering some sort of repercussion – whether it originates from the school itself or peers? If so, that’s a cop out. Regardless of the reasoning or situation, often, when parents allow schools to call the shots, it is without even being aware they are sacrificing their own children to the system.

Even though a parent may have objections or reservations, if they do not speak up, they are, by default, allowing the school to seize more decision-making power and little by little assume a defacto parental role in the child’s life as they marginalize parents.

Boil the frog slowly.

To the parents, consider this carefully:  Are you a passive or proactive parent?

Before signing any document, do you take the time to actually read it and make sure you understand what it is you may be granting permission? Don’t be afraid to call the school and ask, if you are not sure. And by all means, don’t be afraid to say “No”.

My advice to parents? Listen to that voice inside. Trust your gut instincts. After all, you are the expert when it comes to YOUR child, not the school, and, most importantly, your child depends on you to stand up for them by making decisions which are in their best interest while reflecting your own family values and moral beliefs.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or lodge complaints, if necessary. If there’s a problem, discuss it with the teacher. If the issue is not resolved, take it up the chain of command:  to the principal… then the superintendent… and your school board. After all, you elect them to represent you. It’s part of the job.

I’m here to tell parents be empowered. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your child, your family values, because it’s your duty… your responsibility… your right as a parent. Don’t let anyone discourage or prevent you from exercising good judgement and your God-given parental authority… ever.

In closing, I’d like to quote wise words from President Ronald Reagan:

“There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”


A Commitment Phobic Generation

Choices are a part of life. They can be good or bad. Important or incidental. But when a “choice” becomes a failure of committing to a child or spouse, selfishness rules. Commitment phobia demonstrates a lack of personal responsibility.

In 2008, the CDC reports 41% of all births were to unmarried mothers, up from 34% in 2002 and more than double the rate of 18.4% in 1980. In Norway, Sweden and Iceland unmarried mothers already account for the majority of births at 54%, 55% and 66%, respectively (per 2007 CDC stats). If the US trend continues, it won’t be long before births to single mothers out-paces births to married couples.

As a strong supporter of LIFE, I applaud and am thrilled to see these unmarried women choosing to give their babies LIFE. However, the flip side of the coin is a concern over the lack of commitment to marriage these numbers represent along with the demise of the traditional nuclear family model.

One-in-two marriages end in divorce. So perhaps the escalating rate of unmarried mothers may be related. Having come from a failed marriage, herself – or growing up in a broken home may be a contributing factor. As can the undeniable fallout from the sexual revolution, going back to the 1960s.

It’s difficult enough raising children in a traditional, two-parent home. I commend single parents who are doing a good job. But I’m also worried by the increasing role government is taking in raising children, under the guise of “helping parents”.

In dog training, when the owner feeds the dog, he or she is clearly sending the message of being the alpha… the boss… the parent figure.

When schools feed students, they assume a parental role in the minds of these children. For years, public schools have been providing children with breakfasts, lunches, snacks and sometimes even suppers or meals during summer school… a responsibility which used to be entirely that of the parents. It’s one thing if there is a true need to lend a helping hand, but now there’s talk of the government providing school meals to all children, regardless of their parents’ financial status.

Many schools are intruding into the family unit to the point of “teaching” parents how to raise their own children. Why do parents accept this kind of interference?

Some public school districts operate day care programs, preschools, after school programs and even “birth to three year old” programs. It’s getting to the point where children are spending more time each school day away from home than with their own families.

I find this disturbing. Have commitment phobic parents and the “it takes a village” mentality opened the door to allowing the government to raise this generation of children? Absolutely.