Dear Riley, Please Don’t Come a Slave to This World

Dear Riley, Please Don’t Come a Slave to This World

My prayer for you is that you don`t fall in college.
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Dear Riley,

So here we are! Next year we will both be at the same college, just with two very different majors. Things between us the past two years have been without a doubt complicated. I sometimes hear rumors about you, that you made-out with a guy you barely knew on the night you meant him, that your email background is a shirtless man, or that you role play with strangers on the internet. I hope none of these are true since I like to see the best in people, but my fear is that they are real.

I know you were born out of wedlock. I know your dad has gotten a DUI before, perhaps this is why you are against drinking. You`ve seen first hand what drinking does to a person. Your dad, however, is a good man who just once made a poor choice. I know you stand against drinking and premarital sex, maybe because of the involvement they both have had in your life, but I can`t help yet be concerned.

My prayer for you is that you do not fall in college. However, I am scared you will. I want to be there to help you stay true and strong to your current morals and faith, or even help strengthen them. High school and college are two very different things. I don`t wish for you to give into the pressures of this world, or even you become a slave to it.

There is only so much one person can do, however. Temptation for you will only get stronger in college, just because you are on your own. No one else is responsible for you, except you. I find myself wanting to be partly responsible for you. No one can resist temptation forever on their own, I want to ensure you find the right friends. The friends that will challenge and strengthen your faith and not destroy it.

I know you go to a Catholic high school where having faith is an actual "cool" thing. It seems like you do have a strong faith. I hope you do because based on your other actions it seems you are a "clock-in, clock-out" Catholic. Meaning you only "have faith" when it is required, such as school, mass, or retreats. I hope I am wrong when I say this, but it seems like this is what you are. I pray and hope your faith is stronger than the outside view.

I will not stop praying, I don't want you to fall nor become a slave to this world. I know it`s a difficult thing to do, always and repeatedly say no to the pressures of this world. I`ve fallen myself, so I know it`s hard. Those pressures only get worse in college in unimaginable ways.

You will question who you are, your morals will get tested, and slowly your faith may begin to slowly fade away. It is very hard to resist these temptations, but it`s easier with a good friend by your side. I don't care what lies the devil feeds you - you are strong enough to resist! He`s only challenging you because of your faith!

Lastly, I want to apologize. I am sorry for everything I have done against you. Being your ex`s girlfriend, it`s fairly easy to dislike you, but it is also because of this relationship that we are now close. I am sorry for all the times I have gossiped about you, especially before we were even friends. I don`t wish to fall into these temptations, but I am far from perfect myself. However, that is hardly an excuse.

We all have our own cross to bear, so I pray that when college comes, you may remain strong and remember you are a beautiful daughter of God! Most importantly, that you not only say no to temptation in college, but you kick Satan in the ass.

We all have our own cross to bear, I pray you find the strength to bear yours.

Sincerely,

Your sister in Christ

Cover Image Credit: Regan Marie

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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7 Ways To Lower Your Monthly Mortgage Payment And Pave The Way To A Debt-Free Life

Shorten the amount of time it takes you to pay off your loan.

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For many Americans, their monthly mortgage payment is the bill that eats up most of their income. It's also the bill that most people would love to get rid of. If you have a mortgage with a payment term lasting for three decades, or even longer, it can seem as if you'll be paying on your mortgage for the rest of your life.

Fortunately, there are several ways to shorten the amount of time it takes you to pay off your loan. If you're looking to start a debt-free life, try these suggestions.

Improve your credit score.

Having a great credit score can help in several ways. The best way to improve your score is to make sure you pay all your bills on time while working toward paying off as many smaller loans (think credit cards) as you can. As you pay off each loan, use the money you were using to make the payment to pay down the principal on your home loan each month.

As soon as your credit score is high enough, look into the possibility of refinancing your mortgage. A better credit score can usually give you a better rate at the bank.

Monetize your property.

Use the property that you have a home loan on to actually make money. If the home is located in a desirable area, consider renting out a room to tourists or taking on a roommate.

No spare space? Consider using the backyard to start a vegetable or herb garden, and sell the produce at the local farmer's market. Not only could you earn extra money to pay down the mortgage, but using a part of the home exclusively for a business opens the door to take several tax breaks that can save hundreds of dollars a year.

It may even be possible to do a portion of the job you already have from home, allowing you to save money on transportation and deduct home office expenses from your tax bill.

Refinance into a loan with a shorter term.

As a general rule, shorter loan terms come with lower interest rates. Essentially, many lenders believe that loans that are paid off faster are less risky than those that stretch out over several decades.

If you haven't refinanced a mortgage through a home affordable modification program in several years, check to see if you qualify for a lower interest rate simply by refinancing into a mortgage that only knocks one or two years off of your loan term. Odds are you won't see an increase in your payment, but you'll cut down on the amount of time it takes to get the mortgage paid off.

Similarly, you may want to consider agreeing to a slightly higher payment if it takes a significant amount of time off of your loan.

Find a new mortgage with a lower interest rate.

Home loan rates are at historically low levels, which means many people will be pleasantly surprised when they shop for a new mortgage via a home affordability mortgage program. Even a small decrease in the interest rate can translate to thousands of dollars in savings over the life of a loan.

Find a mortgage with lower fees.

If you're currently paying PMI or finance fees, look for a mortgage that doesn't have these fees. Often these fees are dropped after there is sufficient equity in a property, so even if you have been turned down for better loans the past, be sure to reapply every few months to see if your situation now looks more favorable to a bank.

Be sure to take the time to look into a home affordable modification program.

Review insurance and taxes.

Home insurance and property taxes are usually paid into an escrow account each month and can be a large part of the monthly bill. Talk to an insurance agent about ways to reduce your home insurance bill.

Sometimes, simple upgrades can save a lot of money. While you're at it, check with your local property assessment office to see if there is any way to lower your property taxes. While you're exploring this possibility, ask about a home modification program that can help to lower some of these costs.

Conduct an energy audit.

After your mortgage, your electricity bill is probably your next highest bill. Fortunately, most power companies offer free or low-cost energy audits to help you determine ways to lower your electric bill.

Use the money you save to pay off your mortgage faster. It may even be possible to complete some home repairs that increase the value of your home, allowing you to increase the equity in the property without actually paying more toward your mortgage.

It's important to note that all of the suggestions on this list can be used together to help you reach your goal of paying off your mortgage faster. Consider using some of the ideas to save money while you research your options when it comes to refinancing your home.

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