"I find myself wondering again and again what it would be like actually to live every moment of one's life with an awareness of God..." D. Allen

January 8, 2014

"Financial Recovery" by Karen McCall

I've read my share of financial nerd books, and still curiously pick up new titles.  The ones that peeve me MOST are too simplistic (build wealth in 90 days!) , or pretend you can be your own financial advisor (financial DIY is not for the faint of heart).  

That said, this book fills gaps I haven't seen before as it delves into desires, income gap, and serious debt.  This is not a book for messy over-spenders who need a written budget.  This is a book that deals with behavior and desire, or "financial dis-ease".  

Seems pretty relevant to today's main stream America. Come to think of it, I'm not sure when was the last time I read one like this. Am I missing out?

I want to understand my relationship with money, the heart and soul of how now and my hope for wise future decisions.  Has anyone helped you with this relationship?


Living in the Now: Epiphany

On the 13th day of Christmas, we celebrate Epiphany.  This is a sweet holiday for me, and the "rest of us" coming to the Light. 

It's also the day we take down our Christmas decorations, which have only been up since Christmas Eve.  How does anyone keep theirs up for the whole month of December?  Or even since THANKSGIVING?  Boy, I was already tired of Christmas. 

Returning to normal is such a relief, even if that requires defining a new normal in the new year.  When does this happen for you?

I hope it is not too irreverent, but we also have a traditional Epiphany meal of chicken curry.  It seems possible that the wise men might have liked their curry, and a little heat in the dead of winter goes a long way.  This is usually a shared dish with our Epiphany practicing family, with prayers for the new year, but this year we were all home bound with severe cold weather.  

How is your new chapter beginning this year? 

December 27, 2013

Practically Speaking: Christmas brain dump

A few days post Christmas, I try to do a quick brain dump.  I will read it for next year.  Going with my gut, I set the timer for 10 minutes, make a quick list of what worked, what didn't work, what seemed to be worth repeating, and mistakes not to be recommitted.  It helps to look at all the lists I made over the past few weeks, and even staple those to the brain dump (gift lists, meal plans, etc.)

I shove this brain dump in my 3 ring holiday binder and glance through it come Halloween each year.  Do you do something similar?   I'm thinking about dropping it all in Evernote.  Gasp.  Suggestions?

Some good I liked this year:
We sat down for Christmas Eve dinner.  We ate on my mom's old china, a first for us. 

We played Pandora stations until we were sick of Christmas music.  Jackson learned many new songs. That makes my sentimental heart happy.

after the Christmas Eve church service, we decorated and strung lights without fights.  How did that happen?!  Probably because we ate first. 

We set aside quiet for us. Yes.

Remembering the poor, lonely, orphaned, and strangers in the land.  Giving to them is a practice of love.

Some things I wouldn't do again:

Make so many gifts so close to Christmas.  It's not like they have a shelf life.

Neglect time teaching Jackson to be a giver.  We helped him create and give some gifts, but not as many as I hoped.  I know he is just 7 years old, but he had some concerning "give me" moments.

Budget poorly.  We did not overspend, did not use credit cards, and stuck to the budget.  But there was no wiggle room and This gave me a lot of gray hair.  Good budgeting needs breathing space.

Remember, reflect.  

A new book

This is a new chapter.  Or maybe a new book altogether.  This conversation has been silent for a long, often disorienting period.  I need to pick it back up as a simple discipline of humility, a practice in seeing the transforming work of my walk with God.  Hopefully, this will give you some space to ponder and walk in worship.  Like all reasonable people, let's start with a cup of coffee.

August 6, 2012

Reconnecting with Eyes Wide Open

Its been awhile.  One of those seasons when I look around and think, Has it only been a few weeks?  How many miles have been trod.  God can transform and move so much that my sense of time is disproportionate. 

What about you?  Where have you been journeying, traveling, or seeing God?  How has your relationship been transformed? 

Big eye openers in the last few weeks:

1. Parts of me have been dying to my true self; those little parts that I've given up.  God's breathing life back into them.  THANK GOD.

2. Learning to ask God to breathe life into my dead and dying parts. 

3. Dreaming bigger.  I'm shocked to see the ways I've let go of my dreams. 

4. Having the eyes to see the journey God is leading.  Seeing His fingerprints. 

5. Surprised to find I have little tolerance for unhealthy patterns.  Not sure if this is good.  Poor family; must be shocking. 

Are you changing?  How do you embrace change?

June 15, 2012

Practically Speaking: 13 Reasons I Choose Kroger

If you're around me for a few conversations, you'll know I'm a die hard Kroger shopper.  Here's the short version why:

  1. Simple "ALT ID" at check out.  Silly enough, its a relief to merely punch in my phone number instead of digging for my loyalty card.  Plus, this is an easy method for everyone in our house to centralizing all our loyalty points, and cash in at the gas pump.
  2. Online, digital coupons that load to my loyalty card.  The only grocery store in my area that lets me pre-load digitally.  I keep my card loaded with items I might buy.  When I swipe my loyalty card, or enter my "ALT ID" at check out, these digital coupons are automatically calculated in my transaction.
  3. Straight-forward coupon policy.  I love a short list.  One of the best coupon options in the area.  Worth mastering.
  4. Generic of generic products.  I'm a deal-seeker, ya know, and I'm not afraid to buy generic.  Kroger has a high end, mid end, and low end generic products.  Remember when there used to be a "white aisle" of generic labeled items?  They now have generic white label options for most of their products.  Great option for savings when I'm not carrying coupons.
  5. Clearance labels brightly marked in ORANGE.  All clearance items are a bright orange label on the item, or a plain white tag if on the shelf.  Not only is it marked "clearance", but the original price and clearance price are both marked for comparison.  Some stores mark items as "clearance" that are a mere 10% marked down.  Not in my world!  Kroger clearance is at least 50% off. 
  6. Clearance section.  Not all locations have this feature, but mine does.  A whole clearance section is a great place to start my shopping!
  7. Sub-price.  All price tags, even sale tags, clearly show the price per ___ (ounce, pound, item, set, etc.).  This makes for quick, accurate price comparisons.
  8. Nicest clerks.  My favorite clerks and I have great conversations.  They still offer to help me to the car, and often I take them up on it.  They've been there for decades and still love their job.
  9. Convience.  Fortunately for me, there is a Kroger in my path nearly every direction I head.  Even better, most now have neighboring Kroger gas stations.  I believe in shopping conveniently to save time, money, effort, and energy.
  10. Fuel points.  We're frugal with our grocery purchases, and we still get a discount each time we pump up.  Hold on to your fuel points until you have maximized your savings.
  11. Shelves are always stocked.  There are a few unnamed chains in the area that cannot make this claim.  No names mentioned.  My drive for efficiency and limited interest in shopping makes this a high priority.
  12. Produce is excellent.  Again, not all chains can make this claim.  My Kroger can.
  13. Free treats for the kids.  Of course, the Krogering stickers.  Sometimes suckers.  I'm a sucker for freebies.

June 8, 2012

Practically Speaking: Juggling 5 Areas of Eating Better

Approaching the table and eating well is a big undertaking.  The hours involved gathering supplies, the brain power invested in making solid plans, are challenging.  We all consider these challenges, no matter the number of mouths.

While I often find the process satisfying, it can also feel like the plan that never ends.  There's that nagging feeling knowing I could have done more, or done "better".  At best, I can only juggle three or four of these areas, but it has been a rare, single day--or hour!--when I could juggle them all.  

Give yourself space for this limitation, and take on only what you can do well.  Let me know short cuts that let you invest in these areas. On a normal day, how many areas can you juggle?  When do you reach your limit?  How do you find peace, and let enough be enough?
  1. Buying local produce: regularly visiting farmer markets, supporting local business (East TN farmer market directory here); eat seasonally.
  2. Buying organic: either some or all of your purchases are organic (economical tips here); remember the "Dirty Dozen".
  3. Buying in bulk: grain co-ops, Bulk Herb Store, Vitacost, or splitting warehouse purchases with friends.
  4. Grow your own: cheap, but requires sweat investment; takes creative alternative planning for small spaces (think vertical); minimal time investment.
  5. Cook from scratch: varying extremes, from making your own ketchup to making your own bread to making your own yogurt; control preservatives, sugar, and food colorings that are in your food.