Brand New Blog Design!

April 7, 2014

Hi lovelies!

I'm so excited to show off my brand new blog design, compliments of the lovely Brooks

I told Brooks that what I was looking for was clean lines and simplicity. I wanted my blog to be a space that invited writing -- smart writing, funny writing, general life updates writing...anything and everything. And she certainly delivered exactly what I was looking for =) 

So, if you're in the market for a new design...please don't wait to check out my girl Brooks. Besides being a fabulous designer, she is an all around fabulous person and I am so lucky to have found her friendship. Genuinely. She's great. 

How do you like the new design? 

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Bee Stings

April 4, 2014

I'm not the type of girl to get rid of the bad. If there's something nasty or poisonous or hurtful or unhealthy, I'm not the type of person to proactively make an effort to remove it from my life. It seems I'm always trying to add more good, without taking away any bad. It's always resolutions to do better: read scripture more, workout more, eat vegetables more, wake up earlier. I add and add -- but I don't remove. I don't watch less TV, I don't go to bed earlier and I don't stop buying a pint of ice cream once a week.

This has been evident since I was a little kid. 

My parents had to pull out at least 80 percent of my teeth for me. True life. I hated the discoloration, hated the gross feeling of dead tooth slipping on my gum, but if I had my choice I would just keep my mouth shut, only eat applesauce and just wait. In sad reality, this probably did contribute to some of the dental work I later had to get because my teeth didn't move in properly. Because I was just waiting, hanging out with a dead tooth.
 
Shots? Don't get me started. You better give me ample time to mentally prepare for the needle, and I'm going to watch it go in. And cry about it. Band aids? There is no quick and over with here. Band aids are excruciatingly slow to rip off. 

Poisonous friendships or ex-boyfriends? Yep. I still have all those numbers. I don't go out of my way to stop talking to them, even if I know it's for the best. I usually just let them choose, which ends up getting me in a pot of hot water. If they want to be friends, it's umm okay I guess. And if they want to cut all ties, I follow their lead. I 100% know it's not good for me to keep talking to them, but I don't remove the bad from my life. Ever. 

So. A few weeks ago, I put my big girl panties on and I took out the bad from my life. A few weeks ago, I was still working with my ex and TOW. And it was super, super emotionally and mentally bad for me. Some days it would be like nothing had changed and we were still together, and other days it was death glares and pure rudeness. It got to the point where every time I had to go to work, I got nervous. My fingers would tingle and I would worry. So. I took out the bad. For the first time ever. Legitimately. I got a different job. Because it wasn't worth going to work nervous and anxious. It wasn't worth having daily reminders of every hurtful, damaging thing we had been through. 

I get it. Sometimes I berate myself for quitting because of a boy. I tell myself that I should have just sucked it up, and that would be the truly admirable thing. But, I'm also proud because for truly the first time in my life, I proactively took steps to remove the negative from my life. 
And based on how it went when I had to pick up my check Wednesday night, I'm confident I made the right choice. We were right back to our old, addicting habits. And no one should live their life in an Eminem and Rhianna song.
Happy Friday, friends. Live without the negative this weekend, and enjoy yourselves!
How do you deal with negative in your life?
What are you most looking forward to this weekend? 

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How #Obamacare Hurts Philanthropy

April 1, 2014

Since the plan was announced, #Obamacare has raised debate over whether it hurts constitutional rights, freedom of religion and numerous other issues. But what you might not understand is how Obamacare hurts philanthropy -- deeply, truly, in the most threatening of manners. Political posts are not for everyone. But if you have heart and a soul and have at one point donated to a charity, or known someone who has benefited from a charity, then you may want to keep reading. 

The contraception mandate requires non-grandfathered health plans to cover contraceptive services for women without cost-share -- in other words, free birth control and coverage for other contraceptive measures including Plan B and abortion services (though those do not have to be free). I am assuming that any living, breathing human is aware of the uproar that followed this mandate. But if you're not, here is the argument: for some, providing birth control goes against core religious beliefs or strongly held moral convictions, which are protected under the First Amendment. So, affront to religious freedom aside, what does contraception have to do with philanthropy? 
After a lot of rallies, a lot of protests and a whole lot of nuns, the Obama administration announced that all faith-based nonprofits would be exempt. However, what they did not advertise was the requirements for being categorized as an exempt faith-based nonprofit. In order to be exempt, the nonprofit must:
1. Has the inculcation of religious values as its purpose
2. Primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets
3. Primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets
4. Is a non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code 
section 6033(a)(1) and section 6033(a)(3)(A)(i) or (iii)*

What's the problem?

First off, one problem is that this exemption redefines what it means to be a faith-based nonprofit -- a definition that is different than the one the IRS uses to qualify faith-based nonprofits (FBOs) for tax purposes (wouldn't it be helpful to have matching definitions within our government?). This definition limits FBO to churches or other houses of worship, church associations, or exculsively religious activities or any religious order. This will disqualify the majority of FBOs, who do not fall under this strict definition. 

In addition, if they do make it past the definition, this mandate does not cover faith-based organizations who primarily serve clients outside their own faith. This affects the majority of faith-based nonprofits. The majority of faith-based nonprofits make their services available to everyone (this was a mandate passed by Bush in 2002 if FBOs wanted to compete for government grants). There are a number of nonprofits that were funded by a specific religious organization or by founders of a specific denomination, but they will offer their services to anyone and everyone regardless of the client's faith orientation. Not only is that a law if they want to be eligible for government grants, it's also the Christian thing to do. Many did this before it was even a law because they believe in following the teachings of Jesus Christ, which emphasize service and compassion and inclusion. 

Therefore, relatively few faith-based nonprofits qualify for the contraception mandate exemption simply due to the fact that they are helping those outside of their own faith. Or, in other words (my words), they're being penalized for acting according to their religious beliefs and helping serve everyone. 

What's the fallout?

So we have ourselves a problem. What's the fallout? If employers do not provide plans which cover contraception, they will face a fine of $2,000 per employee. If we take a faith-based nonprofit such as Catholic Charities of West Michigan, with 265 employees, that's a total yearly fine of $530,000. That's $530,000 that should be being spent on continuing their work of helping people. Faith based organizations are some of the primary providers of foster care, adoption services, education, health care, homeless shelters, food banks, housing assistance, job development...just to name a few. They are everywhere, and the majority of their work goes unnoticed. 

Simply put, the majority of these faith-based organizations will not be able to afford the fines leveraged on them by Obamacare, and they will end up closing. And what happens to all their clients then? When the nonprofits shut down, where will all those who need help go? You better believe that if you hadn't noticed problems of homelessness, illiteracy, mental illness and poor health in your city yet, you will. Because those people are going to be forced out of the nonprofits and back onto the streets. 

How much is your free birth control worth? 
Is it worth severely damaging the nonprofit sector, 
interrupting the valuable social services that make our world go round? 

As always, you're welcome to leave comments, discussion, question and opinions below. 
Philanthropy is my passion, so I am more than happy to answer anything else I can.
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