Preparing for Christmas...

I have re-posted my article, What Is Advent? If you haven’t read it, check it out. This is the time in the church calendar when people of faith prepare for Christmas. It starts four Sundays before December 25th, starting on November 30th this year. This is a meaningful season for me, and has been since I started reading the church calendar lectionary for Advent a few years ago. It made Christmas so much more meaningful. However, I like to keep things fresh by trying new things, so I did a little looking and found some awesome resources for this year. You might do some looking around yourself, though here are some places to start: FIND ADVENT READING PLAN: If you use a digital bible (like on a tablet), check to see what Advent devotionals are offered. These range from a daily bible verse to extended readings as well as devotional thoughts written by pastors and spiritual directors. FIND ADVENT SMARTPHONE/TABLET APPS: I checked the Apple App store and found a few free apps I started using. There are even more app available if you’re willing to pay. “Advent 2013” has a daily psalm everyday from November 30th to January 5th (the day before Epiphany). I couldn’t find and equivalent for 2014, but decided I could just use last year’s. “Musical Advent Calendar” I found these for 2013 and 2014 that have different music. Click on the day and hear a sacred musical piece. These are perfect on a cold morning during your meditation or spiritual devotional time. “Advent Devotions” is a little app that includes a scripture reading, reflection and prayer through December 25th. The Android App store has several apps for Droid phones and tablets. FOLLOW ADVENT WEBSITES: Check out my friend Christine Sine’s...

What Is Advent?

Holiday music is playing in the stores.  Newspapers land on doorsteps swollen to twice their normal size because of ads. Boxes are pulled from attics and garages with adornments for the home. Special treats are prepared. And money is being spent on gifts that are needed or not. The Christmas season is upon us. The period of preparation in the liturgical church is called Advent. So what is it? The word advent comes from two Latin words: ad (to) and vent (come). Advent is a noun that means, “the arrival of a notable person, thing or event.” For example, we might refer to the advent of the Internet. Advent is a season that leads up to Christmas, when Christ-followers remember the coming of Jesus Christ, when God became human. The reason for Advent in the Christian church calendar is to prepare for the coming of Christ. But it has more than one purpose. While most may think it refers to the first coming of Christ (with images of the little baby in a manger), it also refers to the second coming of Christ. After 33 years on earth, Jesus sacrificed His life, then returned to His Father with the promise of coming again. Advent begins on the Sunday closest to November 30th and is celebrated during the four weeks leading to Christmas. It is often marked with special readings, prayers and candles. A popular European tradition is to mark each day with a special Advent calendar containing little windows or boxes that hold bible verses or surprises. Second best is to be distracted from the best. Madison Avenue and your local big box stores want your business. They have dressed up their windows, filled them with glittery stuff, and enticed you through bargains. These...

What Are You Thankful For?...

Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving today. It’s a time to reflect on what is most meaningful in our lives. What matters most? What are you thankful for? If you ask most people, they don’t think about the new big screen TV or how much they made in the stock market. They think about relationships–which really are the most precious things in our lives. Here are what some responses from people I asked: GABE: Family & friends. Hanging out with family. My new nephew. That my big brother didn’t marry a psycho. My  brother (currently serving with the Army overseas) and my new sister-in-law.   MELINA: (The new sister-in-law): My 2nd family. A really good (1st) baby      NOEL: Freedom to worship the Lord, the gift of life, family and friends.     ISAAC: Family and friends and all the things that keep us alive.     XAYA: Food, water, shelte, gymnastics. Everybody around me. Being able to live with the Lord.     CHRIS: Freedom, rights and family. Glad I’m home and not somewhere protecting your freedom (Chris is a Marine).      ERICK: Family and everything they do for me.      CHRISTINA: A husband that provides (the Marine). Always family.      OLIVER: My first Thanksgiving.     DEBRA: Family and friends around the world, a loving God who is not a monster, hot showers, electricity, running water, heat, easy transportation, the Internet, digital technologies, fun and fulillment. What a great time to be alive!     This is Thanksgiving Day. Don’t cheapen it to “Turkey...

Podcast Update

As of November 27th (Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.), the Get Control podcast series has 15 episodes available. If you don’t know what a podcast is, click here to find out. Podcasts are awesome audio (and sometimes video) programs you can access for free (from your computer or mobile devices) to learn about all kinds of topics. The Get Control podcast focuses on career, health and fitness, money, personal development, relationships and spirituality. All episodes are available on the website, iTunes and Stitcher. Here is the list of episodes  released so far! 001: Getting Beyond The Zombie Life 002: Living With Purpose 003: Living a Balanced & Healthy Life 004: Life Coaching 005: Get Moving 006: Growing With Friends 007: Giving Your Life Away 008: The Two Halves of Life 009: Living Creatively 010: Rate Your Life 011: Top Must-Have Phone Apps 012: Living Luxuriously on Any Budget 013: To Technologies to Get Control Of Your Life 014: Overcoming Adversity pt 1 015: Overcoming Adversity pt...

Just Get Along

“Can’t we all get along?” is a famous quote by Rodney King, a black man whose brutal beating by Los Angeles police during racial riots in 1992 was captured on video and spread around the world. Almost 2000 years earlier, the Apostle Paul wrote the same message to Christ-followers in the Greek city of Corinth: “You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.”* Oh how easy it is to say. Oh how hard it is to practice. We get all worked up and fight to defend our position. Whether it’s Jews and Arabs, people in your workplace, or relationships in your family, people get so worked up and choose being right over being loving. It sucks. It stinks. It’s a terrible way to live. Here are some things that help give perspective: We all have limited perception. We perceive through our senses, but we can never get an accurate view of the whole story. We only see slices of reality—the ones we consciously pay attention to. We make judgment calls based on our limited experiences, culture and personality. These are always, by nature, tainted. We construct narratives in an effort to explain situations and the behavior of others. We engage in what academics call fantasy themes when we share those same narratives with others. Right or wrong, accurate or not, we collectively believe certain stories that cause us to pursue particular actions. We follow our fantasies. We commit to actions that end up rarely solving anything. All that’s left are broken relationships. It sucks. It stinks. It’s a terrible way to live. I have been involved in several of these “situations” in the past few years. We did not get along. We chose...

When A Bargain Isn’t A Bargain Nov25

When A Bargain Isn’t A Bargain

I love bargains. In fact, I have such a reputation among my friends, they sometimes ask me to help them shop; I truly am “Dealtime Deb.” I love the hunt of finding just what I need at the best price. I’ve written previously about practical ways to save money. It just makes sense to shop around to make your limited resources go further. However there are times, many times, when a bargain is not a bargain. I have stuff in my house I never use. I made the mistake of falling for a deal when I really didn’t need it or could not afford it. How do you know when a deal is a deal? Here are some reasons our justifications may not be justifiable at all: You don’t need it. Buying something because it seems like good deal—but is something you would otherwise not even consider purchasing—is no deal at all. Sometimes this involves saying no to a high-pressure salesperson. You get what you pay for, which often means “cheap.” Some things may be a good price, but their inferior quality means they will not last. Think back to something you were excited to get as a child, only to be disappointed when it broke. It’s often a better deal to spend a bit more for quality. You didn’t budget for it. Financial advisors like Dave Ramsey are sticklers about making a written budget and sticking to it. While I’m not so fanatic (perhaps I should be), I think there is wisdom in it. The idea in making a budget is that you set priorities. Rationally telling your money where to go each month is safer than giving in to situational temptation when walking past a store item or finding a deal online. The power of budgeting is that you spend your money on paper before you’re exposed to the emotions of a deal that just presented itself. You put it on a credit card or you cause your checking account to be overdrawn because you don’t have the money. Paying 10 or 20% interest or getting slapped with an overdrawn fee can easily eat up whatever savings you think you got on an item. A good principle is to live on last month’s income. When you put things on credit, you’re spending next month (or next year’s) income. While we rejoice in our perceived savings on a bargain, we too easily dismiss the interest we’re paying. Only use a credit card if you can afford the item and will pay off the bill when it’s due. You buy on impulse. The retail business knows you better than you know yourself. They know they can get you into a store or to a site with the offer of a “deal you can’t pass up.” However, once there, you find lots of other enticing products or services. Grocery stores know this too well, which is why they put candy bars and magazines by the checkout counter. If you see something you think you need at a killer price, sleep on it. You believe the deal will be gone. This is perhaps the most enticing temptation of all. The deal is for a limited time, and if you don’t get it now, you’ll never get such a deal again. This is rarely true. But we are emotional beings and start to believe we must get something now or we will have lost out. We rarely lose out by waiting. You deserve a break today. That was not only a McDonald’s ad campaign, it’s something we all battle with. We work hard. We’re stressed. We deserve that thing. Sometimes it is good to reward yourself. But buying things you can’t afford is not giving yourself a break; it’s often mortgaging your future. You don’t think about the long-term cost. For example, you could spend $5,000 on new furniture. Assuming you didn’t...

015: Overcoming Adversity pt 2 Nov24

015: Overcoming Adversity pt 2...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/15-Carrie_Riffe_s_Story_part_2.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 28:50 — 26.4MB)Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSSThis is the 2nd part of an interview with Carrie Riffee, telling her story of pushing through adversity to get control of her life. We hear how she was accepted to Colorado College and Harvard, wrote state legislation and came back to work at the community college where she started school–all after surviving an abusive marriage and after living with her three kids under a...

Finding Fault

“…the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread.”* Jesus’ followers were crossing a large lake when they realized they had no lunch. So they started pointing fingers to assign blame. No matter they had just witnessed Jesus multiply a few fish and loaves to feed thousands. There is nothing noble about finding fault in others. In fact, it’s likely the most common thing we do as humans. Of course there are faults in others! Da! We all have areas we can’t see—thoughts and actions we are blind to. (See article Know Thyself) So there’s nothing special about our ability to see them in others. There are faults in us too, for which we either feel guilty, choose to ignore or simply justify. But finding fault is a barrier to experiencing successful relationships. We want connections with others. We need those connections. And yet, as Richard Rohr points out, “Humans make hard and impossible the very things we most want.”** We are driven by a need to criticize others. As Rohr wrote, we seem to have a need to fear and to hate. Oh, if we would just let things go more often. We all have stuff to be anxious about. But where do we focus that anxiousness? Do we get a twisted sense of happiness by finding fault in others? Do you return the hate, dysfunction and shit that is thrown your way (or that you perceive, even if it’s not actually there)? Rohr continued: “Conscious love is the totally enlightened, and often entirely nonsensical way out of this universal pattern. Love has to be worked toward, received, and enjoyed, first of all, by facing our preference for fear and hate. But remember, we gather around the...

Letting Go

One of the ironies in getting control of your life is the need to let go of some things. Getting control of your life is not about becoming a control freak. People who have the need to order their world so much they must control others, are hard to be around. They fret or get angry when they don’t get their way. Their lives are so out of control, they feel a false sense of power by controlling others and trying to control situations. The exercise is usually fruitless at best, and devastating at worst. Emotional and physical abuse are extreme examples of trying to be in control. I’m reminded of a strategy once used to catch monkeys. Poachers would drill holes into a hollowed-out coconut hull and place an enticing bit of food inside. They would then chain the coconut to a tree. A monkey would smell the treat and put its hand inside to retrieve it. With the fist holding the food, there was no getting out. The monkey was trapped. All the monkey had to do to free itself was let go of the food to relax their hand. It was that impossible, yet that simple. We are like that. We think we will remain in control if we hang on tightly. But sometimes letting go is what will free us up. Franciscan Priest, Richard Rohr, thinks we have three primary areas for which we need to let go: Success The need to be right Power Getting comfortable with a degree of uncertainty is a sign of healt and maturity. We can’t know everything. We can’t predict how others will respond or act. We can’t even count on what the weather will do. Rohr explained the three in a recent devotional: “There...

Giving To Others

Comedian Michael Jr. likes to make people laugh. But one day he realized his big break, and it wasn’t what you would think. Giving to others happens in many ways. Watch this short video to see how Michael does...

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