Archive for March, 2013

I was privileged to share my testimony at my Alma Mater, Bob Jones University, during their 2013 Bible Conference.

Thought I would share it with all of you. I hope you enjoy it and find some encouragement from it as well.

Rick Huntress Testimony

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894655_10151462189646236_1553605846_oWith an endless source of life possibilities, how does one choose what to do in life? Our early years are pretty much laid out for us with family and school dictating our time. In college we start to spread our wings a bit to test our flying skills. And then we find ourselves plunged into the working world. If things progress in the natural order, we will spend the next 45 years 887124_10151462469301236_1445459261_oworking for a living, possibly raising a family and trying to find time to accomplish everything we want to do. Then in our senior years we all hope to relax, enjoy friends and family and never have to worry about money.

But let’s say you were given the opportunity to time travel to the end of your life. What would you see when you look back? Joy, sorrow, regrets, or even worse…nothing at all. In a sense, my injury allowed me the chance to read the last chapter first. What I saw was not very pretty. So many things that I would have done differently. I was so wrapped up in always keeping myself happy, that I completely missed the boat on serving others.

894001_10151462191721236_1160386490_oFriday of last week I had the opportunity to briefly share my testimony in chapel at my Alma Mater, Bob Jones University. Two friends of mine, also in wheelchairs, shared similar stories. God is always faithful. The past 16 years in a wheelchair has blessed me with serving instead of being served, and realizing that life is not about what I can get, but what I can give. I’m not sure of the exact number of people I was speaking to, but my guess would be around 2500. As I looked out over the sea of faces, I saw so many different expressions looking back at me. Happy, sad, interested, indifferent and even sleeping. What could I possibly say to have a positive impact on so many young people? Something to make a difference?1363974113299

I wanted to impress on them that what matters most in life, is loving God and loving others. That is what we will be remembered for. So let me encourage you to start writing your history today. A history of love and service. Be smarter than I was, and live your life with a greater concern for others than yourself.

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My Purpose

Tuesday Talk With Alex

As a child growing up with a disability, I often wondered why I was injured. Why couldn’t I walk and run like the other children? I came to realize that everyone has different abilities. My mom reminds me that when I was younger, I said, “God made some wheelchair children and some walking children. I’m one of the wheelchair children.”

I believe it is my purpose to be a positive example and role model of what it’s like to live with a disability. Even though I have to have assistance with daily tasks such as dressing and bathing, I am thankful for the abilities I have. While it’s not always easy living with a disability, I try to remember something my dad continues to teach me. He says, “Every day is a good day, but some days are better than others.”

It’s empowering to know that when I speak to…

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US making little progress on jobs for disabled Americans

Published March 24, 2013

Associated Press

  • Disabled Americans Em_Cala.jpg

    In this photo taken Friday, March 1, 2013, Jennifer Lortie works on an iPad in her Willimantic, Conn. office. Of the 29 million workingage Americans with a disability Lortie, who has limited arm and leg use due to cerebral palsy, is one of the 5.1 million, who are actually employed. The National Council on Disability’s Jeff Rosen says long-standing prejudicial attitudes need to be addressed to boost jobs. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

  • Disabled Americans Em_Cala(1).jpg

    In this photo taken Friday, March 1, 2013, Jennifer Lortie works in her Willimantic, Conn., office. Of the 29 million workingage Americans with a disability Lortie, who has limited arm and leg use due to cerebral palsy, is one of the 5.1 million, who are actually employed. The National Council on Disability’s Jeff Rosen says long-standing prejudicial attitudes need to be addressed to boost jobs. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

  • Disabled Americans Em_Cala(2).jpg

    In this photo taken Friday, March 1, 2013, Jennifer Lortie maneuvers herself into a bus during her two-hour commute home after work in Willimantic, Conn. Of the 29 million workingage Americans with a disability Lortie, who has limited arm and leg use due to cerebral palsy, is one of the 5.1 million disabled Americans who are actually employed. The National Council on Disability’s Jeff Rosen says long-standing prejudicial attitudes need to be addressed to boost jobs. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

WASHINGTON –  Whether it means opening school track meets to a deaf child or developing a new lunch menu with safe alternatives for students with food allergies, recent Obama administration decisions could significantly affect Americans with disabilities. But there’s been little progress in one of the most stubborn challenges: employing the disabled.

According to government labor data, of the 29 million working-age Americans with a disability — those who are 16 years and older — 5.2 million are employed. That’s 18 percent of the disabled population and is down from 20 percent four years ago. The employment rate for people without a disability was 63 percent in February.

The job numbers for the disabled haven’t budged much since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which gave millions of disabled people civil rights protections and guaranteed equal opportunity in employment, public accommodations, transportation, government services and more.

The National Council on Disability’s Jeff Rosen said long-standing prejudicial attitudes need to be addressed to boost jobs.

“Employers are still catching on to the fact that the needs of most workers with disabilities aren’t special, but employees with disabilities often bring specialized skills to the workplace,” Rosen said. “Perhaps no one knows how to adapt, think critically or find solutions better than someone who has to do so daily in order to navigate a world that wasn’t built with them in mind.”

Rosen, who is deaf, was named in January as chairman of the council, an independent federal agency that advises the president, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy.

The Obama administration recently has acted to expand the rights of Americans with disabilities in other areas.

The Education Department’s civil rights division released new guidelines that direct schools to provide students with disabilities equal access to extracurricular sports teams. If schools can’t, they should create similar athletic programs for disabled children, the department said.

Also, the Justice Department said in a settlement with a Massachusetts college, Lesley University, that severe food allergies can be considered a disability under the law. That potentially could lead to new menus and accommodations at schools, restaurants and other places to address the needs of people with food allergies.

One silver lining in the lagging employment for the disabled has been federal hiring.

The latest data from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management shows nearly 15 percent of new federal hires between 2010 and 2011 were people with disabilities — almost 19,000 people. That’s up from the previous year when about 10 percent of new hires were people with disabilities.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2010 aimed at improving the federal ranks of people with disabilities. The goal was to add 100,000 disabled people to federal payrolls in five years; that would be within reach if the 2010-2011 hiring numbers were to stick or improve.

Federal agencies are trying to achieve the numbers through better recruitment, especially at colleges and universities. And last month, OPM issued rules to limit the paperwork that potential hires with disabilities would need to provide. They essentially “self identify” as disabled by qualifying for a special hiring category known as “Schedule A” that allows disabled people to apply for a job through a noncompetitive hiring process, meaning they could be hired without competing with the general public.

The administration also is considering new rules that would leverage the power of federal spending to encourage companies to hire more disabled workers. The Labor Department is weighing a rule that would require companies with federal contracts to set a goal of having at least 7 percent of their workforce be disabled. Federal contractors employ nearly one-quarter of the nation’s workforce.

Since the rule was proposed more than a year ago, business groups have complained that it would be too burdensome and lead to conflicts with federal laws that discourage companies from asking job applicants to identify themselves as disabled.

“We have had a long history of supporting the disabled community,” said Randel Johnson, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for labor issues. “But this proposal goes too far, woefully underestimates cost of compliance, and is completely unworkable as structured in the proposal.”

Jennifer Lortie, 29, of Griswold, Conn., considers herself one of the lucky employed Americans with a disability.

Lortie was born with cerebral palsy and has limited use of her arms and legs. She graduated college during the recession and it was no easy task finding a job.

She spent more than a year scouring newspapers, job search websites and sending out dozens of resumes. She worried her wheelchair might be a strike against her until she landed a position in 2009 as an assistive technology specialist with the Connecticut Tech Act Project. The federally-funded program aims to increase independence for people with disabilities by educating them on new and best-fit technologies for work, school and community living.

“I think helping people kind of makes me think maybe there’s a reason that I am in a wheelchair,” Lortie said in an interview. “There has to be some reason to all this, so it gives me a sense of purpose as far as `OK, I’m in a wheelchair but I can help other people’ instead of just sitting home feeling sorry for myself.”

Lortie spends four hours each day commuting to work and then back to the home she shares with her parents. They drive her to the bus stop and then she takes two buses to get to work — two hours each morning and two hours at the end of the day to get home. And she doesn’t mind a bit. “I like to help people,” she said.

Jill Houghton works with companies to expand employment for people with disabilities. Among the big barriers, she said, are concerns about cost. Companies worry about whether they’ll have to make special accommodations or additional training and they want to know how much it’s going to cost.

“The reality is that businesses have found that when they create inclusive workplaces, where people with disabilities are working side by side with people without disabilities … the bottom line is that it doesn’t increase costs,” said Houghton, who heads the US Business Leadership Network, a trade association that represents about 5,000 businesses.

She said she has noticed a significant increase in calls and requests recently to the group from the business community about hiring people with disabilities.

Companies want to be inclusive of people with disabilities, Houghton said. “Businesses are learning that it just makes good business sense.”


Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/24/us-making-little-progress-on-jobs-for-disabled-americans/#ixzz2OVuPanWh

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March has been a busy month for me. I have spoken four times this month to various groups, and I have one speaking engagement left. The “business” has been good for me in many ways. In February I felt like a helium balloon that had a slow leak. No particular reason why…just sometimes I think the day to day ordinary things in life can do that to me. Perhaps does that to many people.

Then I get to speak with other people that are going through difficult circumstances in their lives, for whatever reason, and I feel like I am able to help. But I don’t think they realize how much they help me. I have spoken at a medical interpretation class at a college, support groups and a group of moms with special needs children. Each group may think they are getting blessed or motivated by me, but in reality, it is them that are giving me the blessing and the motivation to keep rolling.

Once again I get to prove my point that reaching out to help others, helps me more. God designed us to think of others first. When that gets skewed, we feel it. Something is not quite right but the reason seems to allude us. Then the opportunity to reach out to those around us presents itself, and the sun shines just a little brighter.

People with disabilities may feel like we have little to offer in the way of help…but that is so wrong. Be a friend, sent a note of encouragement, hold someone’s hand. When you do, the blessing will be two-fold as we see a smile that we helped create. So why wait? I’m sure you know someone that could use a kind word of encouragement.

Start today!

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imagesDear Readers,

As you know, I enjoy traveling. One of the reasons that I do enjoy traveling is to experience the many different cultures around the world. As of yet, I have not been to the Far East. I have a good friend in Singapore that has invited us to visit his country, so perhaps some day…

He sent me the following article which I found very interesting and knew nothing about. So like me, if you ever do plan to travel to China and surrounding region, this is one cultural trait that you should at least be aware of.

So I hope you have a strong stomach and read on.



Taken from:


The Voice of Singaporeans for Singapore

I am a Singaporean, I swallow

March 14th, 2013 | Author: Contributions


If you’ve never step foot into China, one of the most important things you need to possess is a strong stomach – for random spitting that comes your way.

Spitting to Chinese is like queuing to Singaporeans, a bizarre national habit. I use the Chinese and Singaporeans loosely because not everyone here spits and neither do all Singaporeans enjoy getting in line.

Based on my years of observation, the “spitters” are usually the older set, say 50 years old and above, or are hoodlums, also known as 小痞子 here. Singaporeans would call them ah lians or ah bengs. I’ve also seen white-collar workers and seemingly “cultured” types in the act but those are quite rare.

I’ve always wondered. Why must people spit? What’s wrong with swallowing back?

First, the Chinese have low tolerance for phlegm or saliva build-up. That’s because according to Chinese medicine, spitting out your phlegm is the best way to get rid of “heatiness” especially when nursing a cough. In fact, when you visit a Chinese doctor, their default question is always “What colour is your phlegm?” since that is supposedly an indication of your health.

But not all “spitters” spit for health reasons. 小痞子 sometimes do it to show power. They spit to express disgust or to despise someone. One wonders how they get the backlog of saliva that’s ever ready for spitting on cue?

The most ludicrous I’ve heard is that spitting shows off their macho-ism to the opposite sex. Every feminine bone in me can’t fathom how a man who spits can turn me on.

Here’s the thing. You know what never ceases to amaze me? The Chinese and their Perfect Spit.

If you’ve ever tried spitting, you will know that it is actually an art to gather your saliva loudly in your mouth, roll your tongue so that when you spit them, it aerodynamically lands on the ground in a neat roundish glob. The result is a clean dry mouth. No embarrassing leftovers from your lips or saliva dripping from your chin such that you need to wipe them.

Next time when you are here, observe. In China, the Perfect Spit commands three precision steps: Stop. Spit. Strut.

This fortnight, I’ve been nursing an awful cough that generously filled my throat with phlegm. Anyone nearby can hear the thick mucus I cough out each time. My driver who had the ill fortune to share my recycled air in the car advised me to spit out my phlegm. When I told him I had no idea how, he looked at me in shock.

I was sent home with an information-loaded brain about the healing effects of spitting out the phlegm when nursing a heaty cough like mine. I was desperate to get rid of my cough. So I stood before my bathroom sink and tried to…spit.

Everything came out wrong. Instead of the straight arrow-shooting perfection I was hoping to achieve, it splattered into fireworks of mess. Droplets of germs flew to my sweater and trickled down my lips. Undigested food came up along with yellow yucky gooey stuff. I was left with an acidic bitter aftertaste in my mouth that overstayed their welcome.

I felt worse than before.

When I told my husband that I can’t spit to save myself, I realised I wasn’t alone. In his teens, he once coughed out a huge lump of green phlegm by accident. It landed on the table. Stupefied, he thought he’d just coughed out an organ. When he was sure no one was watching, he nervously picked up his “organ” and swallowed it back.

So if ever a well-meaning Chinese ask me to spit out my phlegm, I will politely reply:

“I am Singaporean. I swallow.”

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IMG_0728Wendy and I had the joy of going to the wedding yesterday for the daughter of some great friends of ours. She is the same age as our oldest, Kara, and we have watched her grow up over the years.

They live in North Carolina, about a three hour drive from where we live. So as usual, I IMG_0746drive, Wendy sleeps. But like everything we do, we turn it into a mini adventure. So we allowed plenty of time to get there and stopped along the way if something looked interesting (like Dairy Queen).

I also think I need to change a setting on our GPS. We must have it set for shortest distance. That is fine most of the time, but in the country, that can lead to trouble. My “low-riding” minivan is not made for cross country mudding! We found ourselves on a road that needed a 4×4, complete with muddy water and rocks. Wendy just kept saying “oh no!” and gasping as we sunk into another crater. But we made it through without leaving any van parts behind. However, tomorrow is bath day for the van.

When we arrived at the church, which was beautiful, we sat in the foyer for a bit talking to people and got to meet some wonderful new friends. Then the parents of the bride, Alan and Dorene, came out and Dorene burst into tears when she saw us+. It opened the flood gates for all of us as we all joined in at different levels. I got blamed for making her cry…little innocent me…just sitting there!

IMG_0753They had arranged a front row seat for Wendy and me so we would not miss any of the ceremony. I never mind the front row, but with Wendy, I know something interesting will happen, I just wait and wonder what it will be this time. And of course being in the front row, everyone gets to enjoy it. This time it involved the wedding bulletin. There I was, sitting there minding my own business, while Wendy fidgets. First she has to get the camera out of her purse, then a cough drop, takes her coat off because it is hot, puts her coat back on because it is now cold, etc. Then it happens. She decides that I must be hot, and taking the bulletin, begins to “vigorously” fan my face with it. I think her depth perception must be off a bit, because the next thing I know, she is beating my nose with it. I just calmly sit there now with a paperIMG_0729 cut on the end of my nose gushing blood (slight exaggeration), as she flops over in the pew bursting out in hysterical giggles. Nice that she can duck out of site while I just “smile and wave” to everyone watching us. Oh well, such is my lot in life, and I would have it no other way.

The Bride was beautiful as was the Wedding. We then went to the reception and had a great time getting to meet the many family and friends of both the bride and groom. We had a wonderful day watching a new beginning for a young couple. May they always remember the love they feel for each other and I wish them the best of life.

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