Thursday, July 30, 2009

Young, Fabulous, & Broke.

If you find yourself often complaining about the state of your finances, I have just the book for you!  Suze Orman is my absolute HERO!  Homegirl didn't just start with nothing and work her way into a sizable fortune, but she started in the negatives. She was in over her head in debt and she fought her way out with some basic money principles she now writes about as a career.

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke is by far my favorite of the 5 or so finance books I've tackled thus far in 2009.  The situation of being 20-something is unique.  While I appreciated the advice in 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' and 'Rich Dad's Guide to Getting Rich', you have to have money to take on investments such as real estate endeavors.  I'm still a few years from having the stash of cash it would take to embark on such financial adventures as his.

Money is tough in your 20s, especially for those of us in this phase now during the economic crisis our nation is facing.  What I love about Suze is that she gets excited about this phase because we have the distinct advantage of having what most people do not when they decide they want to master their finances - we have time!  Time to fix past mistakes, time to catch up, time to get ahead, and time to conquer.

Ask some of my closest friends (Mer, Alyssa, Candy, etc) and they will tell you that I've clawed my way to getting ahead and pushed them to do the same.  It is HARD to get ahead these days.  For those of us living in expensive places like Florida, it's that much more complicated.  It's not without sympathy that I've pushed them and they me.  Going without to get ahead is not what any of us want to do....but in the end it will allow us to meet long term goals and 'get what we want' when we can afford it.

So here's a few little tidbits for the night.  First, saving in your 20s is a novel idea.  How many of your 20-something friends even have a savings account?  The answer would probably scare you.  So, if you're not on some sort of saving plan then here's your challenge.  Start saving $100 bucks a month.  Even if this means finding some small extra way to make income.  If you do, after 3 years you'll have saved $3,831.  If you continued this for 10 years you would have saved $14,774!  Now thats what I call progress. So get real with yourself, you can do it.

My other food-for-thought or more of a problem solving thought when it comes to finances comes from a question someone asked Suze that she addressed in her book.  The question reads, ' I am finally making a decent sum of money, but I still have nothing left at the end of the month after paying all my bills'.

Ah ha! So, I'm not alone.  Or wasn't, when this was me a few months ago.  Making more money than ever and still having bare bones in my bank account come end of the month.  Vicious cycle.  If this category includes you here's some advice from the Suz... (page 161 if you buy the book).

You are spending money that you don't even have to impress people you do not even know or like.  It is such a colossal mistake.  When you waste money simply because it's easier to do so, or because you feel you're entitle to it, that is just plain stupid.  And don't feed me that crap that you only live once and you deserve to have fun while you're young.  Hey, there is a ton of fun to be had later, too - when you can afford it!  If you don't make the right choices now, you are going to be so broke when you are older that you will be absolutely miserable.  Look, I'm not going to tell you what you can live without.  you're looking to pare back, not cut out....

If you're having trouble deciding what is good spending and what is bad spending, I ask you to head over to your bedroom closet. Open it up.  Any item you have not worn or used in one year, or that still has its price tag on or is sitting in it's original packaging, is to be placed in the center of your living room.  While you're at it, check under the bed, in the garage, and in your bathroom.  Take out all your unused or hardly used cosmetics, video games, and any sports gear you haven't touch in eons.  Get it all in one big pile.

...when you say you don't know where the money went, a lot of it is sitting unused in your closets.

Guilty as charged.  Any one else squirming in their desk chairs?  My clothes, shoes, and handbags take up not only my room and hall storage but the vast majority of the guest bedroom at the moment.  The money I haven't been saving in the last 23 years can be accounted for with the Carrie Bradshaw quote from 'Sex and the City' - 'I like my money where I can see it, in my closet'.  But, I have to agree with Suze on this one - if I'm not wearing it or using it, it's got to go.

She goes on to recommend that you either Ebay or craigslist these items.  I'll go one further and say that I'm a HUGE advocate of consignment.  I worked at a consignment shop (if you live in Indy visit Carmel Consignment on N Meredian) and not only was it a fabulous job but it taught me how to recycle my designer duds.  While you don't get out of them what you put into them, the payback is considerably better than donating them - and can give you money to put towards newer things you WILL wear, carry, or walk in.

It's not the right path for all of your unwanteds as they are pickier than goodwill or craigslisters BUT if you have a fetish for the fancy like I do, it's a good way to recoup some of your money.

In fact, I've got a place I take to regularly and I've been working on my next laundry basket full of items to take in the next week or so.

Good-luck loves!

B


Bowling in the Tropics.

In the name of completing yet another of my 'challenges' (search old entries if you're lost) I decided that instead of attending a charity event I would volunteer for one. I took some time in deciding which event I would attend because something I've discovered in this challenge is that no matter how much you doubt they will, people read what you write. The wonder of internet blogging is that anyone can have an audience, even me.

I didn't want to pick an event I cared nothing for and write about it. That seemed shallow and misguided. However, I don't see any reason why after volunteering a days time to an event I felt a valuable cause, I can't share that experience with you here. On the flip side, I will not be blogging about being set up by a friend. I'm sorry, that's just awkward to post on the internet. 

I volunteered for an event called 'Bowling in the Tropics'. It was held at Pin Chasers. I wish I had thought to snap a picture because the staff there had done a fabulous job of decorating the alley to the theme. The event was to raise money for Achieve Tampa Bay and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. I certainly have a heart for those who need assistance and so I was more than happy to lend a hand.

I paired up with one of their therapists for the day. I was able to ask her questions about the foundations and her job there. They are truly doing great things for the people who utilize their services. She and I also managed to sell $400 worth of raffle tickets to the generous bowlers. Money that will go towards helping the children and young adults I met who are receiving help from people like my volunteer - teaching them how to speak and effectively communicate despite the extra hardship this may be for them.

Props to Tampa Bay Buccaneer Ernest Graham who gave up his Sunday afternoon to sign autographs and take pictures with the kids and eager parents. He was delightful when I met him and was a great sport through endless questions, pictures, hugs, and autographs.

Better still, my friend and fellow Purdue Alum Lynn Enterline was there as well! She is working with the Bucs for the summer and was one of the staff assigned to accompany Graham to the event. So we were able to briefly catch up on her time in my neck of the woods and her plans after she finishes school at Wake Forest. I hope we will be seeing much more of her in Tampa in the near future.

Whether or not you're searching for friends, dates, or to pick up event planning tips - working charity events is a great way to spend the occasional weekend day. You can expect to see more of this from me in the near future with groups such as All Pro Dad, Walk for Life, The Warrick Dunn Foundation, and more.

Love,
B

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Happy hump day!

This work week is more than half over, and so I offer you a hump day treat.  A little inner-office-romance video. Note: I did borrow this from the working girls blog I read.

Love,
B


What is certainty?

'If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are patient in them, we shall end in certainties' - Francis Bacon

Dear goodness I hope this quote is correct.  In my 15 months of young adulthood I have certainly had to live in the land of uncertainty.  I moved here in a hurry.  Running away perhaps but more importantly running towards what I wished my life to be.  Dreamy as that may sound it hasn't been without it's share of frustrations.

Since moving here my job and even my life have left me in periods of limbo.  The experience has made me thankful I don't believe in a spiritual limbo, it's bad enough on earth.  I've sweated out the unknown with the best of them in this season of my life and from it I have grown.  To trust, to hope, to plan, and to wait....always to wait it seems.

The waiting game has never come easy to me.  As both a planner and a doer in what I consider to be a unique combo this has been a season that has not come naturally.  Working for an organization that is funded by government funds there are always periods of time in which you are waiting to know the fate of your position.  I was warned when I signed on of this challenge.  I thought to myself, you can handle it.  I have though not always with as much grace as I would like.

The quote I shared in this mornings entry has inspired me to view my situation a bit differently.  I have made many plans in the last two years.  I've followed through with a great many of them.  Along the way though I have learned that what my timing often lacks is made up for in Gods.  I'm quick to think I'm seeing the big picture until he reveals it to me in his timing and I catch myself wondering how it escaped me to begin with.

'Life is what happens while we're making plans', is it not?  

I wrote an entry about taking lie detector tests to qualify for a job with child protection services.  I passed 8 months worth of tasks.  A few weeks ago the day finally came where they offered me that job. The job was incredible.  What an honor!  Here I was finally after so many months being given an incredible career opportunity.

As it turns out it was a great opportunity, it just wasn't my great opportunity.  I couldn't get a peace about seeing myself in that role.  The idea of taking a position that so strictly limited my time to see and support my family and friends just couldn't be pushed aside.  I see my sisters reaching new heights and I cherish my involvement in those moments.  I look forward to this football season where I will cheer my Dad on in his first season as assistant head coach!  I want to be in those stands for as many games as physically possible.  I want entertain my Mom in Florida during her first year as an empty-nester.  

Could a company car, raise, and the best benefits package I've heard of to date make up for missing those?  How do you place a value on your life?  In the end, I couldn't.  I kept asking myself, what would I do if money was irrelevant?

The answer to that will be tackled in a future entry.  For now, suffice to say that I feel good about turning down the CPS job, flattered though I am that they would consider me a worthwhile candidate.

Love,
B

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Powerhouse Women.

I love powerhouse women. I wouldn't classify myself as a feminist but I do believe that women hold more power than they give themselves credit for. I love women who tap into their power and take life head on. One such woman is Kate White. She is the Editor and Chief of Cosmo magazine. Cosmo isn't my style of writing. In fact, if I were going to be Editor and Cheif of a magazine I would want it to be In Style. Cosmo is a bit too, sex-in-the-city for my lifestyle BUT I do appreciate a women on top of her industry.

I picked up a copy of Kate White's 'You On Top'. Under the title she boasts that the book provides 'smart, sexy skills every woman needs to set the world on fire'. Hmm, now isn't that catchy? I wasn't quite sure what to make of this book being on the $4 table at Borders last week but I'm always interested to hear the opinions of women and how they got ahead. I bought it and four chapters in, I like her style.

As a disclaimer I will say there is plenty in the book I don't agree with...

As with all advice you have to sift through, weeding out that which won't get you where you want to be or may come at a price you aren't willing to pay. This book is no exception. I'm looking forward to learning more from the point of view of the EIC of the biggest women's magazine in the world.

In the Chapter Two - 'Toss out your 5 year plan' she shares this quote... 'We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us', - Joseph Campbells.

Hmm, at 23 myself I think she's on to something here. The pressure to determine the rest of your life hits you hard as you near the end of college. By the time you graduate people expect you should know on some level how the rest of your professional life will go. Plan as we may, there is more to be found in life by not playing by the rules and limiting ourself to formulas. Getting where you want to be in life requires some level of risk-taking. Your 20s are made for these moments, are they not?

In a few weeks I will, I hope, be able to publicize how I'm doing this within my own life. Stay tuned. In the meantime, don't let your plans get in the way of your future.

Love,
B

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pants on Fire.

In pursuit of a job with Child Protection Services I had to jump through some interesting hoops. The most unique perhaps, was the taking of two polygraph tests, or lie detector tests if you will.  An experience I didn't expect to ever endure but one for which I am thankful.  Not simply because it offers an interesting blog topic but for the insight it provided.

Parents are supposed to tell you that the decisions you make will effect your future.  It's written in their job description, along with teaching you to tie your shoes.  They drill that into you and like not swimming after you eat. You never see their point until you have a scare.  Or perhaps I am the only stubborn one.

I came face to face with a lifetime of decisions when I was put in the hot seat.  Here I was strapped in 4 different ways to a machine that would determine whether I was telling the detectives what they wanted to hear or the plain truth.  Time to face the music.  Would my life measure up?

The questions were invasive.  The were prying.  They were appalling.  They were over the top and across the line.  I couldn't help releasing a huge sigh of relief over the ease with which I was able to answer questions that surely had made the bravest of social workers sweat.  Try as they might the questions couldn't throw me off because the lifestyle I had lead up until that point hadn't given me answers to be ashamed of.

I flung my Coach purse over my shoulder and exited the marble lobby with heels a-clicking, awestruck.  For many people the moment when you have to face a lifetime of tough choices and under the gun decisions will never come.  Your choices may not haunt you in a Meet The Parents style.  However, what you do in life and the person you become along the way ultimately find a way out.

I challenge you to live a life of excellence.  Whether or not you ever find yourself strapped to a computer facing an officer addressing issues of your sexual integrity, past honesty, drinking and drug history, and attitude towards former employers - you will find that someday those choices surface.  Be someone you can own up to.  You get only one chance, use it wisely.

Love,
B

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ode to sisterhood.

In my old age I have grown increasingly sentimental.  After my recent tweetfession of seeing My Sister's Keeper (for the second time) and missing my sisters more, that feeling has only grown.  Today my beautiful, brilliant older sister, Rachel is graduating with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of North Carolina.  As the only member of my immediate family not present today, I find myself again in a bit of a 'missing my sisters' funk.

When you have sisters as incredible as mine, how can you not hate being away from them?  We're currently living in three different states and pursuing God's plans for our lives as best we can.  We're all happy and content within our own lives but I find myself often wishing that our lives brought us to the same towns more often.

Sibling relationships are just the best aren't they? 

Recently I went to Chapel Hill to see my older sister.  After a tough but important soul searching year for me of being out on my own, I felt that my relationship with her needed more effort from me to see her face-to-face.  Quality time ranking high on both of our 'love language' scales.  While there I was staying in the office on an airmattress. Rach made the comment that it was weird for her to have a boy spending the night.  Since she's been married for over 2 years now, this feeling is hilarious!  But don't we all do that?  You grown up so fast and you fit into your grown up life until  you get around your family and it's as if time stood still, only for you.

Last time I was in Indy visiting my family Ruthie was out after midnight (babysitting I discovered later) and I had to laugh at myself after I asked my parents, who's going to pick her up?  She's 18, she's been driving herself for 2 years now.  She's also going to college and I still feel like I should be offering to tuck her in at night.

My sisters and I have a unique closeness that I attribute in large part to needing each other to survive growing up.  After countless moves and more than a little press drama, my sisters weren't just my siblings they were my best friends. On more than a few post-move occasions, they were also my only friends.  After you've been through those kind of transitions (esp as a teenage girl) with your sisters, the bonds are forever.

Since today is Rae's big day I think I'll share a few memories of her...

Once, I got Rachel spanked.  It was nap time and we had strict policies about this in our house.  Once we were put in bed there was no playing.  You stayed in your bed for the duration of 'rest time'.  Well I was always a bit of a mischievous kid.  I was laying with my feet where my head should be and my head at the bottom of my bed.  I was using my toes to play with the blinds on the window between Rachel and I's bed.  I knocked the blinds off the wall.  This secured my getting in trouble...

Rachel to the rescue.  She got out of her bed to help me fix the blinds before my parents came in and found me out.  Only she got caught red handed being out of bed during rest time.  We both got spanked.  She hasn't let me live that one down ever since.  When Ruth brags about being the one of us who got the least spankings (something I still argue is not because she DESERVED the least) - Rachel always reminds me that the blinds related spankings were totally my bad.

Before you start thinking she's the sweet one though, she did finally confess a few years ago that she cheated at Candy Land our ENTIRE childhood!  She rigged the cards.  She was always so clever....I should have know.

Rachel always hated being the center of attention.  Lucky for her she only had to hold the spotlight for a little over 2 years before I came along and was happy to take over.  We have endless home video's of Rachel trying her hardest to dodge the camera and me being more than willing to sing, dance, tell jokes, or practice accents in her place.  We made a good pair.

In high school Rachel was the perfect older sister.  While all my friends siblings ditched them every chance they got Rach would beg me to come along for practically everything.  We went to the same bible studies, hung out with the same friends,  stayed out late and rode home together after endless amounts of local band shows.  She never made me feel like a tag-a-long.  In fact, even after I got my license and preferred to drive myself so I could actually be on time AND leave when I wanted - she'd still beg me to go with her instead.

Rach was my constant encourager. She always lovingly pushed me to pursue the things I wanted.  Whether boys, school, or work she'd build me up and guide me through.  Somehow she always knew when I needed it.  In return, I was her support system when she needed it.  When she was upset I was the one she'd wake up in the night or take with her on a ride in the car to DJ sad songs while we cried about whatever incident she was upset about.  I was also the one that gotten woken up after prom dates and such...including the time we were staying a lady from our churches lake house while our house was being remodeled.  It was prom night and after I'd gone back to sleep from the first time she woke me to tell me about her night, I was woken AGAIN when she woke up to find a roach crawling on her. Eck.

I could write for hours about sweet Rach.  I wish that I was there with her on her special day but even from afar I'm beaming.  I couldn't be more proud of her.  Not only for what she's accomplished but for who she's become.

Love,
B



Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Love it.

There is much to be said for young people speaking out! I encourage people to share their opinions no matter what they may be! As a sociologist I appreciate the need for differing opinions and I love to have people share their point of view with me and discuss it, as long as all involved parties are respectful!

A friend and former classmate of mine has responded to my previous entry entitled 'Dear President Obama' in which I wrote out my thoughts and feelings on some issues I differ in opinion on from our president. Her response stated her respect for my beliefs and her admiration for my being in-the-know when it comes to politics (rare for people in the 20-somethings) and that she respectfully disagreed. I asked her to share her own stance with me, as I truly desired to know where she stands. You can find that response on her blog which is here...

http://irishphotog.blogspot.com/

Her response is titled, 'Opinion Time'.

First off, I'd like to thank her for taking the time to share that with me and with those of you who chose to read her response to my controversial letter. I believe it safe to say that a large number of American citizens are on her side. There is a strong desire in our country to see abstinence education be abolished and the continuation of abortions within our nation.  I think it valuable to present opposing sides to arguments and we certainly have those.

In my time working in abstinence education I have been under the umbrella of a crisis pregnancy center and have heard several arguments as to scenarios in which people feel there should be abortions allowed. For example, a vast majority of people who argue in favor of abortion remaining legal make the argument that rape victims should have the option to abort the child of their attacker. Lisa's argument that people who do not wish to have children, such as herself, should also be allowed this right is also quite popular. She does also makes a statement I really appreciate when she says that abortions are not a proper form of 'birth control'.

In response to this I would like to point out that there is no conceivable way to limit this. While in theory I understand (though respectfully disagree) with the statement that there are some situations that should be considered acceptable while some not...the number of abortions performed/desired makes it impossible to properly judge this. The examples I hear most frequently are rape victims, situations in which the mother is in danger, and children who are to be born with severe birth defects. How would we take on the responsibility of determining the worthy v. unworthy applicants? Court cases? Juries? This process could (and in such large numbers most likely would) drag on beyond the window of time that women are allowed to have an abortion as well.

I'm a big fan of facts. So here are some that should help shed some light on the issue of abortion as it stands in the United States.  They will also tell you where I'm coming from and perhaps shed light on to the formation of your own beliefs on this topic.

- 1 in 4 pregnancies conceived in the US is terminated through abortion.
- Over 30 million babies have been aborted in our country since it's legalization in 1973.
- Approx. 45% of women seeking abortions today have had 1 or more in the past.
- Around 1% of abortions are the result of rape

The 'parasite' theory...in response to that I can only say that the facts do not support the theory (shared by many) that a child is not a child in the beginning. The truth is this...

As soon as the sperm joins with the egg (conception), the DNA has been determined including sex, eye, and hair color. By the 20th day after conception, the foundations of the brain, spinal cord and nervous system are already established, and the HEART BEGINS TO BEAT. If you wish to further confirm this you can do some research on fetal development.

Note: how many women even know they're pregnant within the first 20 days?  Consider that.

What I like about Lisa's argument and respect is that she takes ownership of her opinions. That's a sorely lacking quality in so many people, esp. in our generation. The 20-somethings love to blame-place or to cop-out of answering the tough questions and Lisa really owns her thoughts and feelings towards the areas I'd addressed.

One primary issue that I would like to take ownership of is that my belief in God does play a part in my beliefs about the right to life. Our nation was founded on biblical principles that seem to be slowly being weeded out. I firmly believe God to be the giver of life and while I would agree with Lisa that at this point in my life I'm not sure I ever want children of my own, I also believe that if I do everything in my own power to prevent that and I still get pregnant later in life - I would accept that as God's will for me.

Many people share similar opinions to hers about abstinence education being a church thing, while sex ed is a secular and therefore public school way to address things. Part of these opinions I believe come from the belief that abstinence education doesn't address sexual activity, contraceptives, and 'safety' properly. Having spent 14 months teaching this I will take it upon myself to say that we discuss: condoms, birth control, STD risks, all forms of sex (vaginal, anal, oral, and mutual masturbation), pregnancy risks, abortion, adoption, teen parenting, and a whole slew of other topics.

To say that abstinence doesn't have it's place in the public schools I believe takes away the idea of 'personal responsibility'. At 23 I already appreciate that I am ultimately responsible for my own actions and resulting effects on myself and the world around me. Our youth need to be held accountable for their own actions and therefore understand that what they do now affects their futures, sex included. Also, I'm a true believer that people CAN wait until marriage. While many chose not too there are still plenty out there who are sticking to that and they're not all 'church people'. I believe we'd be doing our youth a terrible injustice to eliminate this from being presented as a healthy alternative to trusting 'safe sex' to protect you in a country where 4,200 women are dying of HPV yearly, an STD that guys cannot be tested for but pass on to their women partners.

There is no know form of 'safe sex' that can eliminate the risk of STDs and pregnancy except abstinence until marriage. When there is, I will revisit my stance. Until then I still want the safety of our youth to be a high priority!

Finally, I'd like to offer a YouTube clip of what I previously meant in my letter about Obama calling a child a 'punishment'...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNzmly28Bmg

After rewatching it, I would be interested to hear his take on what values and morals he'd like his children to adopt. I don't mean that sarcastically. Those are different per individual and a fascinating topic.

I hope this entry further clarifies why I take the stance I do. And again, thanks to Lisa for furthering this dialog! I do like to talk about the issues. 20-something need more of a voice in politics!

Love,
B

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Comedy Club Challenge.


First, I would like to report that I'm slightly disappointed to be the only of 5 participants who's actually still doing our dating challenge.  Boo.  

One of my challenges was to visit a comedy club.  This ended up working perfectly as I was gifted 8 tickets to Improv Comedy Club in Ybor City, FL.  I'd never been to Improv before but Ybor is a fun, artsy district that's crawling with young people, so what a great place to meet people!  I will go ahead and say that Ybor can be a bit wild on weekend nights and the party crowd is not a place I'd look for a potential mate BUT Sunday night's at Improv proved not to be too wild a group.

We saw Bert Kreisher (I hope I spelled that right) and 3 guys went before him with a few one-liners.  I admit I was a little panicked after seeing the openers, 2 of which I thought were awful.  Bert however proved to be hilarious!  Warning: as with every comedy act I've seen there were some off color remarks that I would never repeat so I hesitate to recommend the experience but for me, it seemed worth putting up with a few because overall, the act was great.

A different set of friends and I are returning this weekend actually to see a 10-person-comedy-battle Sunday night. So who knows, maybe I'll have more details to share soon.

In the mean time, let's talk dating and comedy as a combo.  I didn't actually meet one new person at the show.  Once they sat us, at our own table in the front of the room, we had no interaction with the rest of the attendees.  It would have been awkward and inappropriate to randomly wander the tables introducing myself.

I think a comedy club would be a better place to go WITH a date after you've already found the person you want to be with.  It would be a fabulously fun and unconventional outing for a couple.  So that would be my suggestion before I would recommend looking for a date there.  But who know knows...with 10 comedians this weekend maybe the vibe will be different and there will be more interaction and mingling.  If so, I will report back with different opinions.

In the mean time, I do have a request.  If you have any good ideas for topics, challenges, or projects you'd like to see me take on and blog about in the near future I am in search of some.  I've greatly enjoyed the dating challenge as a way to blog about something people find entertaining (whether they're in the dating boat or not) and I'd like to continue to do some sort of adventure seeking to keep the blog about more than just me.

One suggestion I've had is to write about the places that I've been.  I love this idea because it seems to me that most people have at least some interest in activities and outings in other cities.  I have been blessed to be a great many places and see so many wonderful things, I may just have to take this challenge and start sharing them with you.  

All suggestions can be sent to me via e-mail @ rebeccaholmeschristensen@gmail.com

Love,
B

Note: This weekend I will be working a charity function, my version of one of my challenges (to attend one).  So a blog on that will be coming soon!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dear President Obama.

President Obama,

It is with great respect for the intensity of your job and the desire I believe that you have to do it with excellence that I write to address a few specific issues with you. While I pray the best for your time in office and hope to see you do many wonderful things on your campaign for 'change' there are a few issues with which I fail to understand your stance. Those are the issues I wish to address in this letter.

Your partnership with Planned Parenthood has brought many questions to my mind. I admit to being shocked and more than a bit outraged by your choice of the word 'punishment' to describe a child. As a young lady of faith I believe every child is a gift despite the circumstances that surround their conception. When challenged with the question of how you would handle one of your own daughters becoming pregnant at a young age you were given an opportunity to impart wisdom to parents in similar circumstances and to say you would not wish your own child to be punished with one was to me a grave disappointment. Your children's children as well as mine are our future as a nation, their lives should be protected. As you fight to protect the would-be mother's I am left wondering, who is protecting those children?

I wish to understand your stance on abortion. As an avid pro-lifer myself it is beyond me as to how you have come to seek a proactive role in furthering abortion. Can you explain this to me? Not only do you wish to continue to allow what I can only describe as the most horrific injustice in our nation to date, but your actions seem to imply that you wish there to be more abortions and with greater ease. Try as I might I cannot come to terms with how you have come to this place. Why do you wish for young girls to be enabled to endure such emotionally and physically damaging acts without so much as the consent of their parent? What good do you feel could come of this?

My own father would have fallen into this category, his birth mother being a mere 15 years of age when she gave birth to him. Would you say that she was punished with him? Does that description not fail to note her own role in her pregnancy? Had she chosen to abort him instead of selflessly giving him up for adoption not only would he not be here today but neither would I, or my two sisters. How many more families have been snuffed out by the offering of 'choice'?

A point of confusion for me is this: if having a child before you're 'ready' is a punishment than what is abortion to the baby? Those of us fortunate enough to understand the conception process and the development of children within the womb know that we are never merely a 'blob of tissues'. So it would seem to me that while you seek to 'protect' these young women (and then men who aided them in getting to this point) it is at the cost and expense of innocent lives.

This brings me to the next issue I seek your clarification on...sex. Even as you have sought to abolish abstinence education I cannot find a valid reason for this decision amongst any of your explanations. Would abstinence until marriage not be the most economic and emotionally healthy way to prevent unwanted pregnancies? If you wish my tax dollars to pay for the abortions of women in our nation and others than why are you fighting to keep those dollars from helping eliminate the need for such procedures?

It is my belief that it is easy to point fingers and say that because there are teens having sex in our nation abstinence education isn't working. But what if even on a small scale it is? What if it is saving the hearts and lives of even 20 kids per school in a year? I know first hand the numbers for my county are much higher than that. I've seen more than 20 kids in 1 classroom make the commitment to abstinence until marriage. But for the sake of argument lets say 20 per school, are not those 20 teens worth it? Was I not worth that?

The message of abstinence-only education was given to me as a teenager and it determined the decisions that I made not only in high school but in college as well. That decision has enabled me to accomplish a great many of my goals and I continue still to work towards more. This includes spending the last 14 months of my career teaching abstinence education in my county. I've seen thousands of teens be impacted by our program and if you continue to eliminate our funding then it will slow our progress, limiting the number of teens we can reach. I honestly believe if you understood the good these programs were doing and took the time to visit one of our classrooms for a week and come to care about the teens in our classrooms the way we do, you're perspective would change.

It is with the heart and desire to respect you as the leader chosen to run my country for the next four years that I seek to understand your decisions. Please, help me reach that goal. I believe that you wish the best for our country and that you will have more opportunities than almost anyone else in our nation to promote change. I only hope that you use that power in the best possible ways and I commit to continue to pray for that throughout your time as president. I do appreciate all your hard work and ackowledge that I would never wish to be in your shoes myself. Thank you for what you do and I hope this letter has challenged you to rethink your stance on life.

Sincerely,
Becca Christensen

Saturday, July 11, 2009

All Star Dad - Ray's Event.


Inside the group floor of Tropicana Field

Today was my first All Star Dad (baseball) event with the Family First crew!  Meredith and I had so much fun (as always) helping out.  I love going to baseball games but admit that my knowledge of the game and especially players names leaves MUCH to be desired!  It was neat to see the insides of the stadium though and the Rays personnel was delightful.  Mer and I snapped a few pictures to commemorate the day.

It was neat for Meredith to get to meet all my FF buddies that I love working events with as well as see what the Father/Kid days are all about!  We worked registration so we got to meet the families and see some darling kids.  Vicki kept us in fits of giggles with her funny country sayings - we want to steal them all.

One piece of advice though, if you're going to work early mornings events with Meredith don't ask her any deep questions before 6am, the answers will completely confuse you!  I got a stern history lesson and talking to pre-caffeine this morning.  

If you didn't make it out for this weeks event, make sure you catch a Father/Kid day some day soon!

Love,
B

Mer & I snagged a pic @ the Bright House book and some gear from some of the other vendors!

Here's a few of the field from up top and you can see the big tank of sting rays that you're allowed to pet & feed (not today though, sadly).


On the field!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Poe's Tavern.

When I travel I love to try new places.  Thankfully, so do the Sanders/Van Gemerts!  While I was in Isle of Palms this past weekend/week we ventured out to a curious place.  Poe's Tavern is named such after Edgar Allan Poe the poet, critic, and writer.  Not only did Poe's Tavern have some pretty interesting burger creations (including mine called: the black cat) but the atmosphere was really creative and entertaining.  It had a great vibe and some interesting art.  Here's a few pictures I snapped just to share...



                                                    A rock painted to be Poe's head.

This was my favorite part! The fireplace.


Poe's Tavern was located in Sullivan's Island, South Carolina.  If you're headed near there I highly recommend it for a burger and a good time.  You can also get a sweet t-shirt like the others in my group did! Or online at: http:www.poestavern.com/store.html

Love,
B

'In criticism I will be bold, and as sternly, absolutely just with friend and foe.  From this purpose nothing shall turn m,' - Edgar Allan Poe, 1809-1849

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Up to speed - June Edition.

It's been an interesting transition over the past few months to begin blogging about things other than just my life. I find that when I chose blogs to read I don't want to read entry after entry about someone's day. I sleep, eat, and work too, you know? Writing about yourself and your life is fine, but hopefully if you consider yourself any sort of writer you expand beyond that point.

The "Mr Right Challenge" has been a great chance for me to do something with the intention of writing about it. This is a new branch of blogging for me that has certainly been interesting for me as a 'writer' (self-proclaimed). I find that I more consistently read blogs of those who do this form of 'research'. Tell me what you're doing and tell me how it is shaping who you are.

That being said I have recently written about my research of the datin
g realm and I've explored my thoughts on a variety of self-exploring thought excercises.  If you have some topics you'd like to see me tackle in the future (something non-dating related preferably) than I'm open to some ideas!  I do love a challenge.  But I what I haven't done real recently it just tell you what I've been up to! So, in the event that you read this blog and you care - here's a bit of insight.


Rach & I in route to adventure - NC

The highlight of the month of June was my trip to Raleigh/Chapel Hill, North Carolina to see my sister Rachel and Bro-in-law, Chris. I'm a bit ashamed to admit this was my first visit to see them since their wedding, over 2 years ago! It was a great time to play catch up on each others lives and just enjoy their company. If you've never been to Chapel Hill I highly recommend it - what a great little college town! We ate at some fantastic local joints, shopped the vintage stores on campus, shopped all the 'good stores' in the Raleigh mall, and watched the entire first season of Gossip Girl in 4 days!

I also got to meet Rach and Chris's neighbors/fellow church goers over dinner one night and embarrassingly fell asleep on the floor while they were still there hanging out after. Hey, long day of travel, what can I say? Better still, Rach cooked dinner for 2 of my very favorite native North Carolinians (I set the table) Saturday night and I got to catch up with Travis and Bennett Johnson over Chicken Parm. Delish. They are great friends and it was wonderful to get some time with them while up that way!  I'm hoping there's more hangout time with those two coming soon to an area near me.

Rach & I out to dinner on our 'Girls Night Out' sporting out new dresses.

As those of you who know me ( or have had more than a 30 second conversation with me) know, I have a passion for fashion. So, Rach let me help her put together some new outfits & dig through vintage stores for just the right pair of cowboy boots.  We found a pair of boots we later determined weren't quite right and she returned them.  We bought the dresses were wearing in the picture above as well.  But I believe the coolest purchase of the weekend was my Super Bowl 20 Bears tee.  As both a fan of Lovie Smith and his boys who have been loyal friends of mine since our days in Tampa together - I'm a big Bears supporter!  So this season while I cheer them on I will be sporting this lovely find...



There's a little taste of June.  July updates will be even more exciting, I hope.

Love,
B