Monday, June 30, 2008

Taxes, You Gotta Love 'em: vol. 1

It is property tax season here in Texas. Always a time of year to look forward to. It comes slightly after the Income Tax phenomenon of April 15th. The beauty of Property Taxes is it is basically taxation without representation. Everyone at the Appraisal District (those that decide what your house is worth so it may be used in the multiplication equation to determine your tax liability) are hired hands, no one is elected. This poses a great irritant to me.

Each year the entire appraised value of our house is used to determine our tax liability. In reality, we are paying tax on the same value, plus value increase, each yr. How would you like to get a bill for the tax you paid on your last computer every year, to be paid over and over? Not cool, you say? I would agree. I purpose that only the increase of the appraised value of our homes be used to determine the amount of taxes we pay. So, if you have a house worth $100,000 in 2007 and its value increases to $110,000 by 2008, the $10,000 increase would be the amount used to calculate our tax burden.

One more note, Free of charge - We have all gotten or will be getting our tax stimulus rebate. I hope we all understand that it is not a rebate we are getting, but a REFUND.

Happy Taxation Season!

Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.

Ronald Reagan

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Talking Heads vol.1: Speculation

We use this term a lot in my household. We watch these 'Heads' each AM starting at around 6:30. My main squeeze is in the financial services business. Because of this it is CNBC all the way. Today we were listening to them talk about oil. (Keep in mind, these 'Talking Heads' can be found discussing any and all topics of the day. They may specialize in politics, finance, stocks, homeland security, to name a few. They can also bee seen on every type of news program imaginable.)

Anyway, we were discussing the issue of speculation. We are hearing that a lot right now. Some of the 'Heads" believe that speculators are the culprits for the high oil prices, and some equally educated and experienced 'Heads' think not. The politicians of the day have gotten onto this 'speculation' ban wagon. They feel that speculating (or betting) that oil will go up is actually making it go up. They want them to Stop Doing That! One thing they are forgetting is that there just as many speculators that are 'betting' it will go down. They are in truth balancing each other out. It seems we must look somewhere else to place the blame of the high oil prices.

As we talked further, we realized that almost our entire economy, in other words Capitalism, is based on speculation. Stocks are obvious culprits. If you speculate (bet) a stock will go up you may buy a 'call' on it. If you speculate 'bet' it will go down you could buy a "put'. Other speculation driven industries are: drug research, small business, home building, any investment venture. All of these and more are based on speculation. The investor speculates that they will make money on the deal; the homebuilder invests to build the home while speculating he can sell it for a profit; the small business owner invests in their company speculating it will pay off in the end; the drug research company invest billions into research hoping to re-coop the investment and they speculate that they will eventually make a profit.

As you can see from these few examples, speculation seems to be one of the underpinnings of our financial health. Should it be regulated? I would say no. The Pandora's box of regulation is already too heavy to hold. We don't want to regulate our American ingenuity right out of business or worse yet, to another country.

Keep your eye on the 'Talking Heads'.

At the end of the trading day on Friday, the 27th, the intra day high for the price of a barrel of oil had reached just over $143.00 a barrel.

Entrepreneurs and their small enterprises are responsible for almost all the economic growth in the United States.

Ronald Reagan

Friday, June 27, 2008

Do you have a Litmus Test?

Do you even know what one is?


litmus [(lit-muhs)]

In chemistry, a kind of paper used to tell whether a solution is an acid or a base. Acids turn blue litmus paper red; bases turn red litmus paper blue.

A Litmus test is basically something used to measure what something is made of. You probably used litmus paper in chemistry in high school.

We also hear this used in the realm of politics. The question from a commentator on TV or radio to a candidate usually goes something like this: What is your litmus test concerning (fill in the blank)? They are basically asking a candidate what is his deal breaker or a must have on any given topic. For instance, when President Bush nominated the current Chief Justice to the Supreme Court, John Roberts, he was asked if the right to life (lingo for anti-abortion beliefs) was a litmus test in his decision process. I wonder if it was? I assume it was. I hope it was.

What about our next president? Do you want them to have the same litmus test that our current President had/has? What about our Congressmen, Governors, State Representatives? Do we want them all to have that same litmus test when making decisions and writing legislation?

I know that the issues of today are vast: the economy, the middle class, immigration, gas prices, security, the war, pork barrel spending (to be expounded upon in future blogs), high taxes, inflation, health care. However, there is one issue that trumps them all. One issue that should be the first question we want answered when considering any candidate to give our vote to. The question is: "Where do you stand on the rights of the unborn?" If they don't fall in the right camp,

The Creator of Life said it best:

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
Dueteronomy 30:19

It may seem a little closed minded to some, but this is my litmus test that I measure all candidates by. I may end up voting for someone that I don't see eye to eye with on one of the other major issues of the day. I might even vote for someone that is not affiliated with my political party of choice, but all that dims in comparison to the protection of the most vulnerable in our society, the unborn.

Horton, of Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss, says:

"A Person's a person no matter how small"

Let me ask again, 'Do you have a litmus test?'.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How many roads to heaven?

Do you have the answer? Is it egotistical to say there is only one road, and that it is REEEEAL narrow?

I read an article this morning, by Cal Thomas, that opened my eyes to a growing phenomenon. I knew this kind of thinking existed, (can anyone say 'Oprah'?) but it looks as if it is even bigger than I imagined.

The article is titled, Do They Think Jesus was a Liar?

Take time to read it. It looks as though we as Christians have a lot of work to do!

PS, I looked it up as Cal suggested:

"Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me."
John 14:6

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

OK, I'll get political. Let's talk about the poll!

My friends have been asking me when I would get political on this blog. After all, isn't that what the title is about,'kinda'? Aren't many of my interests politically minded? The answer, of course, to both questions is 'yes'. So I thought that the official end of my first reader poll would be the perfect starting point for this and any future political posts.

First let me tell you how I learned what GOP stood for. In my senior year of High School I took a physics class. I remember it was the 2nd semester because I have clear memories of wearing my boyfriends class ring and my class ring on the same finger while in this class. Anyway, this particular day we had a test. Like most tests there was some form of extra credit that could be gained. The extra credit turned out to be a question on the board that if answered correctly would result in 10 extra points. The question was (can you guess?), 'What do the letters GOP stand for?' (The same as my poll). Needless to say I did not know and did not earn the extra credit. I did, however, know what it meant from that day forward.

The Grand Old Party is the nickname for the Republican Party

What's in a Poll? In this case, everyone got the answer correct for a grade of 100%. Does this mean that everyone that has read this blog to date knew the correct answer? That answer would be 'no'. Polls are just questions, usually asked by phone, given to a sample of a particular people group (male under 25 or female 50 to 75 for example, in this case people who have read this blog) that will give the pollster (in this case, me) information on how the said people group believe, would respond to, or react about a particular subject (in this case, the GOP definition). Research says that a samples reaction can be a good indicator of the entire populations reaction.

Polls have been made popular by those in or affiliated with politics. Elected officials use them to help make policy decisions or to decide where they will stand on an issue based on polls of their constituents. Those who want to be elected (McCain/Obama) use polls to do the same thing thus creating the topics to talk about and the promises to make during the election campaign.

This all sounds well and good, but I have one question. Who are they polling? Not me! I have never been polled. I think I would be the perfect candidate to be polled. I am a member of many people groups: women over 40, women with big hair, pro-life women, homeschooling women, women who love Ronald Reagan, and endless more. In fact, I don't know anyone who has been polled, do you? There are polls out on a daily basis for more things than can be counted and I have never been called. Do they call the same people over and over? How do they decide who to call? Am I even on the list? If not, why not?

Keep your eyes and ears open because this is definitely polling season. Look at them for what they are, an educated guess that is full of probabilities and ratios. Try to find the connection between the polls and: campaign promises, money raised, guest spots and topics on news programs, even the VP picks. Polls control much more than you think.

Well, this concludes my first, yet humble political ramble. You can be sure it will not be my last. I chose not to include my thoughts on whether the GOP is really grand anymore. That will be for another time.

Anyway, consider yourself polled.

Friday, June 20, 2008

How to worship on a Riding Lawn Mower

My friend Christine will get a kick out of this post. We spoke of this very thing a couple of weeks ago at church. I worship on my riding lawn mower every week as I mow our acre and a half. Is this possible you ask? YES! I answer. This then leads one to ask the question: What is worship and how can it possibly be done while mowing the 'back 40'?

Worship is many things. It is going to church, giving of offerings, giving of time, praying, studying God's word, encouraging one another, telling others about our Savior (just to name a few). It is also, but not limited to, the singing time before the preacher preaches on Sunday mornings. We should not, however, limit our worship to that 15 minutes a week.

Worship (the singing kind) is about giving God the Glory and the credit for all things. It is less about how it makes us feel and all about how we make God feel. Old hymns, choirs and rock-n-roll can all do the trick if it is pointed upward. God doesn't have a preference.

Getting back to my original thought. My worship on the riding lawn mower is not very glamorous. My friends know I like big hair and even bigger earrings, but this will not be found during this particular worship service. It is usually extremely hot and I am extremely dirty. I strap on my main man's ipod and I usually sing at the top of my lungs. I may even raise my hands a few times and shout out 'Thank you Lord' on occasion. My favorite ipod pick is Keith Green. Here is a sample:

Asleep in the light

Do you see, do you see All the people sinking down
Don't you care, don't you care are you gonna let them drown

How can you be do numb Not to care if they come
You close your eyes And pretend the jobs done

Oh bless me lord, bless me lord You know its all I ever hear
No one aches, no one hurts No one even sheds one tear

But He cries, He weeps, He bleeds And He cares for you needs
And you just lay back And keep soaking it in
Oh can't you see its such a sin

Cause He brings people to you door And you turn them away
As you smile and say God bless you, be at peace
And all heaven just weeps cause Jesus came to you door
You've left him out on the streets

Open up open up And give yourself away
You see the need, you hear the cries So how can you delay

Gods calling and you're the one But like Jonah you run
He's told you to speak But you keep holding it in
Oh can't you see it's such a sin

The world is sleeping in the dark That the church just can't fight
cause it's asleep in the light
How can you be so dead When you've been so well fed
Jesus rose from the grave
And you, you can't even get out of bed

Oh, Jesus rose from the dead Come on get out of your bed

How can you be so numb Not to care if they come
You close your eyes And pretend the jobs done
You close your eyes And pretend the jobs done

Don't close your eyes
Don't pretend the jobs done
Come away, come away, come away with me my love
Come away, come away, come away with me my love

Keith Green was a Christian artist in the 80's. He died young in a plane crash. I find that all of his songs are in 1 of 4 categories. #1 Praise, #2 Doctrine, #3 Prayer (to God), #4 Instruction (from God). The song Asleep in the Light would be classified as a #4. Even without instruments this song convicts. This is also what worship is. A constant renewing of your mind. A time of conviction that is followed by positive action.

Anyway, that is how you worship on a riding lawn mower. With your whole heart, letting God and the world (your neighbors) hear you worship without shame. Let me allow another of Keith's songs end this post.

Make my life a Prayer

Make my life a prayer to You I wanna do what you want me to
No empty words and no white lies No token prayers no compromise

I wanna shine the light You gave Thru Your Son You sent to save us
From ourselves and our despair
It comforts me to know You're really there

I want to thank you now for being patient with me
oh it's so hard to see when my eyes are on me
I guess I'll have to trust and just believe what You say
Oh You're coming again coming to take me away

I wanna die and let You give
Your life to me so I might live

And share the hope You gave me

The love that set me free

I wanna tell the world out there

You're not some fable or fairy tale

That I've made up inside my head

You're God the Son and You've risen from the dead

I wanna die and let You give Your life to me so I might live And share the hope You gave to me I wanna share the love that set me free

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I am a little freaked out.

Why? Because I am writing this blog and I am super stressed about my grammatical errors. I am a horrid speller. My main squeeze came home last night and pointed out a misspelled word. Even with spell check, I was able to get one wrong.

What happens with these posts? Do they hang out in cyberspace forever? What if I remove my blog? Is it really gone? Can I ever go back and truly erase my mistakes? I don't know the answer in regards to the great WWW (world wide web, not wrestling).

I started thinking about the mistakes in my life. When I yell at my kids, pick a fight with my husband, gossip, judge others, lie, and the list goes on. Can I erase these mistakes? Are they ever really gone forever?

The answer is yes. Thank God for that, literally!

Psalms 103:10-12 says:

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

I am thankful for that promise. I sometimes ask forgiveness over and over for the same thing. I wonder if God is wondering what I'm talking about since He has already forgotten it and put it into His 'Sea of Forgetfulness'. I wish we could forgive ourselves the way God does. I wish our sins affects on others could be erased as easily. There are consequences for our sins that we may deal with for years to come. Sin is ugly.

Getting back to my transgressions on this blog. I will have to deal with being a little freaked out. I hope the readers forgiveness is as far as the east is from the west.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Why a blog?

The answer to the question is 'Why not?'. My friend Kathy created one and in doing so introduced me to the blogisphere (is that a word and is that how you spell it?). I have now began to lurk (more lingo I hope I am using correctly) on many other sites. They have all made me think and some have encouraged me to pray. Those two reasons alone are good enough for me to consider this way of communication to be a good one. I have no idea where this site will go or where it will take me. I do tend to be opinionated and do see things in absolutes. Not a lot of gray in my life.

On a lighter note, I love people. I am fascinated by them. People are funny, weird, interesting, and unpredictable. I hope to meet many of the above in the days to come. With that I conclude my first, if not brief post.