Money, money, money

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Amazon Prime makes it too easy. In two days, I can have just about anything I want delivered to my doorstep. Add Alexa to the mix, and all I have to do is make a request from across the room and she places the order for me.

To be honest, I’ve been on a mini-spending spree lately. There’s something about planning for a vacation that transforms my normally frugal self into a zealous shopper.

Some expenses can’t be avoided . . .like the airline ticket, lodging, and the dog-sitter. But the travel wardrobe is my downfall.

With limited suitcase space, I’m trying to put together a collection of clothing and shoes that is color-coordinated so I can “mix and match.” Then there’s the fact that some of my warm-weather clothes mysteriously shrunk during their winter hibernation . . .hmmm.

Bottom line, it’s easy for me to justify my frequent online shopping trips.

But the “high” I feel from my short-term retail therapy always comes crashing down when I receive my credit card bill.

One morning, as I was reading in the book of Hebrews, I caught a glimpse of God’s perspective on finances.

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Dethroning my social media god

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My mornings had fallen into a predictable pattern.

  1. Wake up.
  2. Eventually roll out of bed.
  3. Shower.
  4. Proceed to my laptop.
  5. Read and answer emails.
  6. Read national and local news.
  7. Scroll down my Facebook feed.
  8. Take far too much time on 5, 6, and 7.
  9. Realize I’m running late.
  10. Rush to cook breakfast.
  11. Quickly read a few Bible verses while scarfing oatmeal.
  12. Pray in-between bites.
  13. Hurriedly finish my makeup and hair.
  14. Dash out the door to work.

Then one day, as I was wishing I felt stronger in my faith, it hit me.

An idol had crept into my life. Continue reading

Are you ready for Christmas?

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The calendar had barely flipped past November when I started getting the question.

“Are you ready for Christmas?”

Translation:  “Do you have all your Christmas presents purchased and wrapped, your house impeccably decorated, 100 Christmas cards sent, dozens of cookies baked from scratch, and holiday family gathering plans finalized?”

My typical response is, “Uh . . . not yet, but I’m working on it.”

What they don’t see, is that under my ugly Christmas sweater, I’ve broken out in red and green hives. Just thinking about the expectations behind the inquiry stresses me out.

One of my coworkers, however, doesn’t let it phase him.

It was only a few days into December when someone lobbed the question to him during a staff meeting. Without losing a beat, he responded: “YES, I am ready for Christmas.”

At first, we didn’t know whether to be impressed or jealous. But then he left everyone speechless when he stated matter-of-factly, “I’m ready because I have purchased zero presents and that is exactly the number I plan to buy.”

Inwardly I applauded his audacity for bucking the system.

“How nice it would be if ‘being ready’ didn’t equate to running about in a frenzy for a month and going into credit card debt,” I thought.

Then one day, I was poring over my mile-long holiday “to-do” list and flipped on the radio for some background music. As I numbly hummed along to “Joy to the World,” a phrase suddenly broke through and hit me between the eyes: Continue reading

Recovering from sudden disaster

Not every storm has a name, like Harvey, Irma, or Maria.

Mine arrived without radar predictions or an evacuation warning.

An urgent voice on the other end of the phone said, “your house is on fire—you’d better get over here, NOW!”

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A few minutes later I found myself standing across the street from my home, watching helplessly as voracious flames consumed the roof.

The firefighters valiantly fought the blaze, preventing it from completely destroying the structure. But what remained was damaged severely by heat, smoke and water.

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For the first time in my life, I was confronted with sudden disaster, devastation, and displacement.

There’s been a lot of that going around lately. Perhaps like me, you’ve felt heart-sick over the string of calamities the past few weeks . . . hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes.

How do we recover when a major storm sweeps through our lives?

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Can’t get no satisfaction

I think I’m becoming a binge-watcher. Well, perhaps more accurately, a binge-recorder.

Dion-Freeview-Tv-Recorder320GBtwin-tunerpause-tvseries-rec-Monster-scart-_57[1]Lately I’ve been DVRing multiple episodes of TV shows in a row. I recently got hooked on the home improvement show, “Fixer Upper.”  Now in its fourth season, I had never seen it until a few weeks ago. (I didn’t discover Downton Abbey until its fourth season either—what’s up with that?)  But I digress.

Each episode of Fixer Upper draws me into the thrill of watching Chip and Joanna Gaines transform a dilapidated, outdated house into a show-stopper worthy of a cover on Better Homes and Gardens.  In the process, I’ve learned a lot about the latest trends in decorating.  (I confess, I had never even heard of shiplap before!)

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There’s only one problem. When I turn off the TV and look around my house, dissatisfaction creeps in.  I notice the outdated color pallet, the so-yesterday oak cabinets, and the cheap countertops.  I begin to envision what my little fixer-upper could look like if Chip and Jo got a hold of it.

But my life’s “reality show” will not include a visit from the Gaines’. Even if it did, I know that the results wouldn’t bring me lasting contentment.

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