Jamie’s Car Buying Experience

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So the used car shopping is quite the experience. Thankfully we were not rushed to make a decision. We waited for the right car and after the first two months of car ownership, Jamie still loves it. God came through and I am very thankful.

I wanted to document our resources in case we ever have to do this again:

My brother pointed us to kkb.com which is the Kelly Blue Book site. That was very helpful and also carcomplaints.com which also took a lot of the guess work out of knowing one bad model or year from another. A friend also gave us Edmunds.com which is a site the used car salesman use to find internet deals from other dealerships. I contacted AAA because they have a car buying service for their customers but they didn’t deal with car in the price range we were looking. I may use them if I ever need a different car.

Congratulations to Jamie for another giant step into adulthood!

Reblog: 10 of the Greatest Leadership Questions Ever Asked

by Ron Edmondson

Have you ever heard the phrase, “There are no bad questions”?

In leadership, this might be true.

I have learned in my years of leadership – I only know what I know. And, many times I don’t know much. There are often things among the people I am trying to lead which I need to know – and, for whatever reason – I won’t know unless I ask. Which means I must continually ask lots of questions.

One of the best skills a leader can develop is the art of asking the right questions – and, even better – at the right times.

Here are 10 of the greatest leadership questions ever asked:

  1. How can I help you?
  2. What is the biggest challenge you have to being successful here?
  3. Do you understand what I’ve asked you to do?
  4. What am I missing or what would you do differently if you were me?
  5. What do you see I can’t see?
  6. How can I improve as your leader?
  7. If we had authority to do anything – and money was no barrier – what would you like to see us do as a team/organization?
  8. Where do you see yourself someday and how can I assist you in getting there?
  9. What are you currently learning which can help all of us?
  10. How are you doing in your personal life and is there any way I can help you?

You can rephrase these for your context and within the relationships you have with people with whom you serve. You can certainly add your own questions. But, if you are attempting to lead people, may I suggest you start asking questions.

Find the original post here.

Reblog: 9 More Ways to Love Yourself

by Sharon Martin, LCSW

Over and over again I see people struggling at work and in their relationships because they don’t feel worthy and lovable; they don’t love themselves. I’ve come to recognize that self-love isn’t selfish or strange or conceited. In my opinion, loving yourself is the cornerstone of good mental health. So, after writing 9 Simple Ways to Love Yourself, I decided it was worth giving you nine more ways to love yourself.

1. Honor your feelings. As a society, we are uncomfortable with feelings, especially the “unpleasant” ones. We prefer to numb out with alcohol, food, electronics, pornography, and busyness. We pretend we’re “fine” when we’re really very far from fine.

Feelings don’t just go away when you avoid them. They will show up at another time in another way. There really isn’t any way of avoiding them; you have to go through them. This is why honoring your feelings is a gift you give yourself. It’s a way of validating your experiences.

Feelings are also windows into what you really need. For example, you anger might be telling you that you’re overworked and tired. When you ignore your feelings, you can’t meet your own basic needs.

One of the exercises I commonly give to my therapy clients is to start regularly checking in with your feelings. Simply take a few minutes, be quiet, reflect, and pay attention to your feelings. When you’re not in the habit of doing this, it feels foreign, but the more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Eventually, it becomes automatic and you gain a deeper understanding of yourself.

2. Accept compliments from others.  Many people have a bad habit of dismissing compliments because they feel uncomfortable with the focus on themselves and doubt whether the compliment is true. If you feel uncomfortable, try the compliment on and consider whether the person offering it is being true and honest. People generally give compliments because they care about and respect you.

The compliment-giver is offering you kindness and positive energy that you deserve to benefit from. When you dismiss it, you’re also denying the compliment-giver the pleasure of giving you this gift.

3. Cut yourself some slack. Loving yourself means offering yourself grace when you mess up. It means not expecting perfection. It means resting when you need to rather than pushing through the pain. Notice when you’re judging yourself with hindsight and forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know.

4. Care for your body. Taking care of your body is one of the most basic ways to love yourself. Everything really is much harder when your health is suffering. I find that often people (including me) take their bodies for granted. You’re probably keenly aware of your physical ailments or limitations. Instead of focusing on them, try being grateful for what your body can do. You can either hate your body for having jiggley thighs or you can choose to appreciate your legs for supporting you and carrying you all day long. Caring for your body includes the obvious things like eating nutritiously, getting enough sleep and exercising, but it can also means soaking in a hot tub or asking your partner for a foot massage.

5. Allow yourself to dream. When you love yourself, you have hope for the future. You have dreams and goals and ideas; you allow yourself to imagine yourself doing and going great places. Try a new hobby or do something off your bucket list to show yourself that you matter.

6. Express your opinions. Your opinions and thoughts are just as important and valid as everyone else’s. You don’t have to defer to others as if they know more or are more important than you are. Thoughtfully expressing your opinions is a reflection of self-respect.  If this is hard for you, start small and with safer people until you build up your confidence.

7. Build relationships. Healthy relationships are good for everyone. Research shows that people with strong social support networks are healthier, happier, and live longer. If you’re an introvert, highly sensitive person, or have anxiety or another mental health problem, it can be hard to build connections with others. You don’t necessarily need a huge circle of friends, but you do need a handful of people that you enjoy and can count on. Not having a lot of friends is nothing to be embarrassed about. With deliberate effort, most people can build positive relationships. Look for opportunities in the places you visit regularly whether that’s church or a coffee shop or school or even online.

8. Invest in self-improvement. I see the desire to improve yourself as an indication that you value yourself. We all have things we’d like to improve, but not everyone will invest the time and money in themselves to actually do the work. Self-improvement comes in many forms – going to therapy, reading a self-help book, listening to podcasts, reading this blog, attending a support group. When you love yourself, you’ll want to improve not because you’re “broken” or want to please someone else, but because you care about yourself. I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from psychologist Carl Rogers: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” The desire for self-improvement doesn’t come from self-loathing, it comes from self-acceptance.

9. Don’t accept all negative criticism as Gospel. Do yourself a favor and look at criticism with a curious mind.  Explore the validity of the criticism logically, rather than immediately jumping to defensiveness or self-criticism. Loving yourself means that you can accept and take responsibility for your mistakes or faults, but you don’t take responsibility for everything that goes wrong; you thoughtfully consider whether the criticism is true.

I hope you will add these nine ways to practice self-compassion to your arsenal of self-love. Which one will you try to use today?

Check out Sharon’s blog for the original post.

TED Talk: Own Your Body’s Data

The new breed of high-tech self-monitors (measuring heartrate, sleep, steps per day) might seem targeted at competitive athletes. But Talithia Williams, a statistician, makes a compelling case that all of us should be measuring and recording simple data about our bodies every day — because our own data can reveal much more than even our doctors may know.

TED Talk: How to raise successful kids — without over-parenting

By loading kids with high expectations and micromanaging their lives at every turn, parents aren’t actually helping. At least, that’s how Julie Lythcott-Haims sees it. With passion and wry humor, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford makes the case for parents to stop defining their children’s success via grades and test scores. Instead, she says, they should focus on providing the oldest idea of all: unconditional love.

Reblog: 10 Ways to Practice Normal Evangelism

by Juan Sanchez

Many of us find evangelism daunting, even frightening. However, evangelism should take place as we naturally converse with people. As we have normal conversations, we are to look for opportunities to speak to people about Christ. In a normal evangelism culture, we will pray together for the unbelieving, and we will celebrate gospel conversations, not just “deals closed.”

Here are 10 practices of normal evangelism.

  1. Know the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Four words provide an outline for the gospel: God, man, Christ, response. When we understand the gospel, we know that GOD is holy and created a world without sin. God provided mankind with all he needed to dwell in his presence. But, MAN rebelled against God, and rebellion requires judgment, the penalty of which is death. Yet, God in his grace, provided CHRIST as a representative substitute to live a life of perfect obedience and to receive upon himself the penalty of sin on our behalf. Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, proving his victory over sin and death. Now, all who RESPOND with repentance from sin and faith in Jesus have eternal life. This is the good news that we must know in order to share it with others.
  1. Live your life in light of this gospel. As this gospel takes root in our own lives and we begin to apply it to our marriages, parenting, relationships, and lives together as a church, then our lives will be markedly different than the world and thereby attractive. How can we announce that this gospel is the power of God to save and change lives if we who profess Christ continue living just like the world?
  1. Pray and fast for unbelievers (John 14:12-14; 15:7-8). One reason unbelieving people are not on our minds is because we don’t pray for them. Make a list of unbelieving people and begin praying for their salvation. But also ask God to open doors for evangelism, then by faith be obedient when the opportunities arise.
  1. Be willing to share your life with unbelievers (1 Thessalonians. 2:1-8). If we are going to reach unbelievers, we need to get to know them: where they live, shop, eat, recreate. Look for opportunities to relate with them where they are, instead of thinking they will come to us. Let us wisely share our lives with unbelievers: talking to them, inviting them to church or into your home for a meal.
  1. Share the gospel with urgency (2 Peter 3:8-10). To be sure, we need to share the gospel naturally & clearly, but we must also share it urgently. Right now is the time for salvation. When a person dies or Christ returns, there will be no more opportunities for repentance and faith.
  1. Study the doctrine of hell. If you lack urgency in evangelism, then study the doctrine of hell. As you consider the fate of those who reject Christ, ask God to break your heart and move you with urgency to share the good news with the lost.
  1. Invite unbelievers to repent and believe. The gospel requires a response. We must call on all people everywhere to repent (turn away from their sinful ways) and believe (in Jesus Christ).
  1. Invite unbelievers to church. Invite the unbelieving, unchurched to come with you on the Lord’s day so that they may hear the gospel proclaimed. Surprisingly, in a 2010 study of unbelieving, unchurched people in Austin, a large number indicated that they would be open to invitations to go to church. Imagine that! They don’t come because we don’t ask.
  1. Trust Christ for the results. Faithfulness, not results is what God requires of us. Salvation is of the Lord, so we must trust the sovereign Lord to do his work in the hearts of unbelieving people. Our responsibility is to faithfully share the gospel indiscriminately.
  1. Share with others and ask them to join you in prayer. I have found it encouraging to hear other Christians’ stories of evangelism. Share your evangelism encounters, celebrate simply sharing the gospel, and pray together for those souls. Let’s make evangelism normal again!

Find the original post here.

TED Talk: How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime

Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.

Reblog: Loving My Gay Parents

A great radio program from Family Life Radio.

Every family is messy. Caleb Kaltenbach’s is no exception. Caleb reflects on growing up with a mom and dad who divorced when he was 2 upon discovering they were each gay. Caleb’s mother shared a home with her partner for 22 years, and his father stayed in the closet until Caleb was in college. Caleb offers unique insight on how the gay community perceives Christians.

 

 

Re blog: How to Overcome Feeling Insecure and Needy in Your Relationships

By

Many people feel insecure at least some of the time. Some people feel insecure most of the time about most things. Other people may occasionally feel insecure or only in certain situations or with certain people.

 Explore why you’re feeling insecure.

Sometimes insecurity is the result of trauma. If you’ve experienced a betrayal or hurt such as cheating or lying or abuse in your current or past relationship, it’s normal to want to protect yourself from further hurt. You put up your guard and feel anxious, on edge, or worried. Your nervous system goes into overdrive searching for evidence danger. You might also notice that these feelings of insecurity remind you of childhood wounds. Children tend to internalize harm caused by others and believe it’s their fault – because they’re bad, flawed, unworthy, unlovable. This sets the stage for feeling insecure in adult relationships.

Other times it’s not so easy to spot where insecurity started. You may have a pervasive feeling that you’re not “good enough”. You worry about what people think. You don’t want to disappoint or displease others. You try to live up to someone else’s expectations or standards. Comparison leads to insecurity. It makes you feel “less than” compared to others that seem prettier, thinner, smarter, stronger, or funnier.

Love and acceptance from others does not solve insecurity.

Most people think the solution to insecurity is having others love and accept them. It isn’t. I remember a painful experience I had in middle school. I had a great group of friends, felt accepted, cared for and wanted…until they rejected me. Friends and lovers will come and go. Sometimes they drift away. Sometimes they storm off after an intense fight. Sometimes they die. If you’re counting on others to make you feel secure, you will eventually be disappointed.

When people feel insecure in a relationship, they often turn to their partners seeking reassurance and validation. A partner can never provide the sense of security you’re seeking. Relationships are always uncertain. There are no guarantees that your partner will be dependable or faithful or with you for the rest of your life. The only way to feel secure in your relationship is to seek security and confidence within yourself.

Security comes from loving yourself and knowing you’re resilient.

Feeling safe and secure means that you know you can cope with whatever life throws your way. You can’t control what your partner does or if this relationship ends, but you can control your response and your feelings. It’s empowering to know that you can cope with the unexpected and messy parts of life. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be hurt or angry or heart broken. It just means that you have confidence in your ability to get through really tough situations and feelings.

Chances are you’ve already gotten through some pretty challenging things in your life. When I reflect on my own experiences, I’m in awe of some of the things I’ve overcome. I didn’t always do it with grace, but I did get through more pain than I imagined I could. I suspect the same is true for you.

Life experience shows us that we can get through a lot of adversity and uncertainty. You can not only survive, but thrive when you choose not to let life’s curve balls keep you down or feeling like a victim. This is where confidence comes from. It doesn’t come from reassuring words or promises from your partner.

Instead of seeking validation from others, reassure yourself.

Look inside yourself for the validation you’re seeking. Honestly, your partner can’t give you want you can’t give to yourself. Your partner might say the words you crave: “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I can’t imagine my life without you.” The problem is, if you don’t believe this to be true deep in your soul, you’re not going to believe it when someone else says it to you.  If you want others to make you feel worthy, you’ll always be chasing this approval. Instead,

  • Tune into your own feelings. Spend some quality time with yourself.
  • Identify your feelings. A list of feeling words can be helpful (try this one).
  • Validate your own feelings. “It’s normal to feel angry when my roommate drinks all the coffee and doesn’t buy any to replace it.” Or, “I understand why you feel anxious when Mary comes home from work late”.
  • Identify your strengths. Everyone has some good qualities. Remind yourself of your positive traits and skills every single day. I promise you won’t become conceded.
  • When you catch yourself worrying about what might happen, gently bring yourself back to the present. You can ask yourself: How likely is this to happen? Is there anything I can do about it?
  • Remind yourself that you can cope with whatever happens.
  • Soothe yourself. Recognize when you need comfort and give it to yourself. You can calm yourself by listening to music, taking a hot bath, repetitive motion like walking, massaging your temples, sipping a cup of herbal tea, or using essential oils.

 

TED Talk: I Survived Cancer. But That Doesn’t Define Me.

Debra Jarvis had worked as a hospital chaplain for nearly 30 years when she was diagnosed with cancer. And she learned quite a bit as a patient. In a witty, daring talk, she explains how the identity of “cancer survivor” can feel static. She asks us all to claim our hardest experiences, while giving ourselves room to grow and evolve.

Great! And inspirational! ~Beth

Philippians 3: 12-14

This scripture was read in church this morning and brought me great comfort and reflection to how I live out my Christian life. Even the Apostle Paul knew he hadn’t arrived to completion in his walk with God…

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus…

The sermon was on vision and I appreciated that and want to work on my own personal vision for my future. Find today’s sermon here.