Studies show that having more money doesn’t make most people happier. In fact many times it has the opposite effect. Money often times doesn’t provide the safety and happiness that we long for. People and experiences, many things that cannot be acquired with money, are priceless.
With the year-end upon us many people are trying to strategize – last-minute charitable donations, business supply purchases, retirement contributions, etc are in the to-do list.
What if we constantly dwelled on the promise of heaven, for believers in Christ, and longed for it above all else? What would happen if we who have much lived as if we were poor, and gave our money to help others?
Giving shouldn’t be dependent on recognition received or tax write-offs although they sure can boost our feelings of satisfaction – or do they?
As I ponder how to spend the last day of 2018 I pray to be a good steward of the gifts given to me, and to store up treasures in heaven.
Happy New Year,
I recently started using the app MyFitnessPal. Friends of mine for years have been using it and I decided recently that I needed to finally fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes again. Also because I had gestational diabetes twice, and have some insulin intolerance, my doctor considers me to be pre-diabetic. I’d rather handle all of this with food rather than with a pill. My doctor also encouraged me to have a green smoothie every morning to get plant-based protein and other nutrients. Here’s the recipe I use for the green smoothie:
- 1 banana
- 3 ice cubes
- 2 tbsp peanut butter powder
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1/4 cup chocolate almond milk
- 1 small cup almond vanilla yogurt (almond milk)
- an avocado
- a handful of broccoli
- a handful of spinach
To blend I use a Nutribullet.
Many people overeat during the holidays. Since I’ve started tracking things with MyFitnessPal I’ve already lost 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks. More importantly I feel better! It doesn’t mean that I don’t indulge or have sweets but I control things more.
I thought someone out there could use some guidance and encouragement eating-wise during this holiday season!
Yesterday we had a National Day of Mourning for George H. W. Bush. This change brought tears to many, but I would venture to say that it brought joy to celebrate the life of a man who was respected by many. Pictures like this one below flooded Facebook – celebrating a couple that many remember fondly.
Do we celebrate life and embrace change? Or do we often get stuck, afraid of what lies in the future? The Bushes had a lot of difficult changes in their marriage – one of which was the death of their daughter at age 3 to leukemia. George W. Bush, his son, spoke at the memorial service of how his father prayed everyday to God Almighty when he dealt with this very difficult, very sad event. This was a change that no one wanted, but it obviously made George H. W. Bush and his family members into the people that they are.
On a lighter note, the changing of the seasons is upon us – it’s COLD here in great state of Pennsylvania! Although it was pleasantly 60+ degrees this past Sunday! We haven’t had much snow but my daughters love every snow flake that falls. They dance and spin around in the driveway with the slightest wind and snow that comes down, playing with the leaves and snow dusting. They LOVE the seasons.
I would say that as much as we try to keep our kids comfortable, they thrive on change. Starting elementary school…making new friends…visiting a new museum or amusement park… They are sponges and they are learning and growing. Let’s not stifle them out of fear or selfishness. I want to keep my kids the way they are right now – I have a hard time imagining my 4 year-old in kindergarten. I want to enjoy spending time with my 7 year-old when she comes home from school, rather than setup play dates. BUT I’m trying to embrace these changes. I challenge you – and I challenge myself – to embrace change and ENJOY the season we find ourselves in.
Webster’s dictionary defines success as: “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.” Its bullet points further elaborate on the definition highlighting the attainment of popularity and/or achieving prosperity.
I would wager to say that most people that attain these bullet points may feel successful for a time, but will not be content. My dad wisely told me once: “it’s not always good to get what you want.” If what you get isn’t meant to satisfy, there will be an emptiness that follows…just like the candy that many kids got this past Halloween – the empty calories don’t provide the necessary nutrition, so we crave more and more. (This is one reason we don’t keep the candy more than a day or two in our house!)
Bringing glory to God and enjoying Him is what many Christians recite as the chief end of man. Does this resonate with you? If not I encourage you to pick up a Bible and read it – if the whole Bible is too daunting, this app is a great place to find answers and topical devotions: You Version Bible App
If you are frustrated with the concept of attaining a goal or success, or have anxiety about the future, I encourage you to find hope and comfort, and an anchor for your soul in Jesus. His love for you will satisfy. You will see His work in your life as success beyond measure.
Do you live with anxiety? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you avoid things because it appears to be less stressful than addressing them?
A couple weeks ago I came home after going out shopping for my birthday with my mom. The gate to our fence was open and my 4-year-old daughter’s green bike was sitting near it in the driveway. I was concerned a bit as I thought she was playing with the gate open, but as I walked around the yard I couldn’t find her. I asked my husband and my dad who were supposed to be watching her, and they thought that the other one was watching her. I started to panic and we all started running around the house and yard trying to find her. Not to stereotype middle children, but this little one likes to blend in and apparently LOVES to hide. This wasn’t the first time that she hid in a corner of our sunroom (that’s where I found her). I was relieved and prayed aloud thanking God that she was safe, and the smile on her face showed me that she had found some sort to of thrill out of this hide & seek game that she created. Needless to say we play a lot of hide & seek games now to get this out of her system! It was scary.
I was quite upset for a couple weeks – I had a hard time sleeping getting over the situation. When something traumatic happens psychologists say that it’s important to not stay on ‘high alert’ – it’s important to recover as our body needs to relax and rest. It’s important to talk about what happened, face the fear, look for joy in other things, etc. My husband and I went away for the weekend recently, and I started to wonder if something would happen to the kids while we were away (mostly concerned that it would be of their own doing!). I had a hard time sleeping that night we were away, but I prayed with my husband and started feeling a sense of gratitude – that my in-laws could spend time with their grandkids. Immediately after this I got a peace and went to sleep. It’s amazing what gratitude can do!
In my Bible Study we are going through The Broken Way, by Ann Voskamp and the book talks about how the average human has 25,500 days in their life. Do we want to waste our life living in anxiety? The Bible says: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6. If it’s a command, then isn’t it possible with God’s help? Ann Voskamp lost her sister at a young age in a tragic circumstance. She struggled with anxiety much of her life growing up. In her book she propels that anxiety can be defeated by being broken before the Lord. I’ve seen this in my own life. By doing this He will provide opportunities for gratitude and healing, and by helping others in service and obedience to Him, we will find true joy.
This past week we remembered the tragedy that occurred on September 11th, 2001. I remember where I was that day – eating breakfast in my college cafeteria. I saw people crowding around the TV in the lobby and I went out, horrified to see what had happened. Classes were canceled. The next day we had a special chapel service to pray, read Scripture and to talk about what happened. On September 11th, 2001 we were scared, sad and a variety of other emotions – at least most of us were. I went to the chapel to pray and since I knew some people who were in the twin towers, in NYC, etc. I was asked to read Scripture at the special chapel service on September 12th. One passage I remember: Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” Reading the rest of the chapter is quite provoking too. When the physical, even in great cities like New York, fails we become shaken – the God of the Bible provides a strong foundation to get through the tragedies of life.
Some of my friends at college did not react overtly emotionally to September 11th like I did. They didn’t have the same connection to NYC (or Flight 93 or the Pentagon), and some were dealing with other issues (i.e. a sick family member & new marriage engagement) and wanted to block out something sad like what happened on September 11th. Looking back I understand why they behaved this way, but I hope that now looking back they are able to have compassion on the tragedy that took place. It’s hard to process tragedy.
For the first couple years out of college, I went on to teach at a high school and I taught the son of a man that died in one of the twin towers – I taught him just a year after the horrific event took place. He knew God, and had such an amazing peace to him. I also attended church with a man who escaped from a 90+ floor of one of the towers – he ended up on the front of the London Times. On the cover of the London Times he was covered in soot. He told me that his son living in London was shocked to see his dad on the cover. It was a miracle that he escaped. So many stories of miraculous escapes and heroes from that time.
To this day I still have a pair of socks that haven’t worn out – I’ve had them for over 20 years. It’s amazing to me, but it may seem strange to you that I comment on my socks until you see them in this picture:
It may not be a big deal to some that I still have them, but I knew it was for a reason when my daughter in second grade learned about what happened on September 11th for the first time this year in school. It took me by surprise as I thought she was too young to process such a horrifying concept. Then I showed her these socks. I think by looking at them she realized that the event that happened was real, but it was also amazing that I still had these socks after all these years. I told her that God was bigger than any tragedy. She told me that God uses tragedies caused by human sin to point us to Jesus. It was amazing what God worked in her heart, so I wanted to share it with you. Hope you find peace in what truly brings peace – don’t settle for the imitation.
Hello! We’re already planning our Disney trip for next year – because that’s how it works! It’s never too early to plan! Here are 5 helpful tips to plan your Disney trip! Read to the end to see my gift card tips!
photo credit: Disney Photopass
#1 GET A DISNEY PLANNER – The first time we went to Disney World with children I thought I could handle it myself – I had booked a non-Disney resort and thought I got a good deal, but then my friend who works for Disney introduced me to a Disney planner who got me on Disney property with meals for about the same price! I also got free monogrammed minnie mouse backpacks for the kids and autograph books as part of the package! Here’s my Disney planner is you’re looking for one!: http://uponastartravel.com/, or ask around – there is no cost, Disney pays them directly for helping you!
#2 TIMING – Most people recommend that you book the resort one year before going, the character dining six months out, and the FastPass rides 60 days out. Disney planners can do all of this for you which saves you staying up until midnight, etc. Certain times a year like February, September and November are less crowded and cheaper. In my opinion there’s something of value to going to Disney that makes it ok to take the kids out of school (especially since my school district is super supportive of it) and get a better experience with less crowds!
#3 DISNEY DINING – Part of the Disney experience is dining with Disney characters. The Disney dining package makes it easy and more affordable to book places like Cinderella’s table, Be Our Guest and other dining experiences. Certain times of the year Disney offers a discount and even free dining. Our Disney planner takes care of the reservations, and one time when we had to wait longer than 30 minutes for our reservation, we got extra FastPasses to rides which was awesome! Disney knows how to please customers.
#4 DISNEY CREDIT CARD – I highly recommend getting a Chase Disney credit card – there’s a no annual fee option, but the annual fee option gives you twice the points and there’s a statement credit that makes up for the annual fee. I usually accumulate a couple hundred dollars a year in Disney bucks, which helps to pay for a vacation! The Disney credit card also allows you to get special discounts on Disney travel packages, and a number of other perks. The Disney credit card also offers 0% financing for promotional periods of time on Disney trips. Although I don’t endorse credit card debt, this is an option to be aware of.
#5 GIFT CARDS – Sam’s Club and other wholesale clubs have discounts on Disney gift cards which you can use to pay for your vacation! I save on average 7% by buying the gift cards from Sam’s Club. In November/December look for Target’s gift card sale – you can get 20% off of Target gift cards. I then turn around and use them to buy Disney gift cards. In the end, between gift cards and Disney redemption bucks from my credit card, I save hundreds of (more like a thousand) dollars on the Disney trip!
Hope this helps!