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Tag Archive | "new year’s resolutions"

New year—new beginnings


Pastor Ryan Black

Cedar Springs Christian Church

340 West Pine Street, Cedar Springs

 

The start of a New Year gives us the feeling of a fresh start, a new beginning, and new opportunities. It is a time when people feel that they can begin anew with their lives. Common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more and eat healthier; or to spend more time with family. Still others include managing money better and being more organized.

Although there is nothing in the Bible or notable in Christian tradition about New Year’s resolutions, many good stewards take advantage of this time of year to become closer to the Lord. They may re-commit themselves to pray more, to read the Bible, or to attend Church more regularly. If you are looking for some helps in your New Year’s resolutions, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Practice gratitude. Cultivating a grateful heart is the hallmark of a Christian steward. Every day, express thankfulness to the Lord and to others. Seeing the good in your life will allow you to keep your heart compassionate and loving.

Encounter the Lord each day. Find time to be with the Lord each day, whether it is for an hour or ten minutes. Have a conversation with the Lord. Give your joys and worries to Him as well. Allow God’s love to transform them. Our encounters will keep our eyes and ears open to the presence of Christ in our midst.

Nurture friendships. Our friends are those we choose to be with, those with whom we spend our evenings, with whom we vacation, to whom we go to for advice. Friends are gifts from God who give us a greater appreciation of God’s love for us. Friends need our time and love.

Make a difference in your Church community. Believe it or not, your Church community can use your talents.  Offering your talents to your faith community is one of the most effective ways to feel useful and connected to others.

Consider living more simply. We cannot find fulfillment in possessions. They add nothing to our self-worth. Jesus blessed the “poor in spirit” in his Sermon on the Mount.

Get healthy. Studies show that most people in North America are accelerating their own decline into premature old age, owing to poor diet and lack of physical activity. Be a good steward of your body. Plan a complete overhaul of your diet and exercise habits.

Don’t give up. People give up their New Year’s resolutions because of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations. Remember, take it slow, be kind to yourself and keep trying. Resist the urge to throw your hands up and quit. You succeed through small, manageable changes over time.

Turn to the Lord. Ask the Lord for guidance, strength and perseverance in achieving your resolutions. In his letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul writes: “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” (Phil 4:13). If God is the center of our New Year’s resolutions, they have a better chance for success.

These are a few recommendations that may help get one started in the right direction at the beginning of this new year.

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Four mindful strategies for a healthy 2017


HEA-Four-mindful-things

(BPT) – Losing weight and increasing exercise commonly make the top of New Year’s resolution lists. Yet many people fall short of their wellness goals each year. What can you do differently in 2017 to ensure you’re among those who succeed?

“Mental health and taking time for yourself can greatly improve your chances of achieving your health and wellness goals,” says the Mayo Clinic. “It’s important to realize that changing any behavior is often a complex process that requires you to address the mental as well as physical aspects of the change you want to achieve.”

Below are helpful strategies from the wellness professionals at Mayo Clinic to assist you in achieving your goals this year:

Be on your mental game

Weight loss is a common New Year’s resolution goal, but to achieve it, you’ll likely need to do more than simply change your eating habits. Behaviors, thoughts and emotions may be playing a role in keeping you from shedding pounds. For example, not getting enough sleep can thwart better eating and exercise habits. Sleep deprivation can hinder your ability to control your emotions, interfere with positive thought processes and make you too tired to exercise regularly.

Being aware of factors that contribute to negative habits not only can help you succeed, it can also help you sustain the changes.

Be aware of self-talk

Everyone has an integral dialogue, and it’s the voice we all believe the most. Is yours negative or positive? The voice of your self-talk can greatly affect your confidence level. Pay attention to your self-talk and evaluate if what you’re telling yourself is actually true.

When self-talk turns negative, try to challenge it and find a more positive way to look at the situation. For example, turn “I always fail at losing weight because I eat too much” into “I enjoy eating fruits and vegetables and can easily eat three servings a day.”

It will take time and practice to learn how to turn negative self-talk into positive, so be patient with yourself.

Fight boredom with fun and creativity 

People fail at wellness goals for many reasons, including boredom. Approaching your goals with a creative and fun attitude can help keep them fresh and exciting and keep you on track!

Try learning something new or vary your routine. For example, try a new recipe or modify your usual food choices. Learn to use a new piece of equipment at the gym, or take an exercise class to learn something you’ve always wanted to do.

Dance around the house, take a healthy cooking class, read a book, travel, check an item off your bucket list or create a list if you don’t have one. However you define “fun,” if you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to want to keep doing it.

Prepare to overcome setbacks

No matter how committed you are to a goal, setbacks are normal. Don’t let them derail you. Planning for setbacks and how you’ll overcome them can help you stay on track for the long term.

When planning how you’ll reach a desired behavior change, try including some what-if scenarios. For example, if your fitness routine includes a yoga class after work and you get delayed, think about what you could do to still meet your exercise goal. You might be able to substitute another class or use body weight exercises at home. Having a back-up plan in case your original goal doesn’t work out can help you avoid “all-or-nothing” thinking.

If you experience a setback, be compassionate with yourself; change is rarely easy. Giving yourself a break will help you dust yourself off and get back on track.

By taking a mindful and proactive approach to your health, you’ll be on the way towards achieving your wellness goals through 2017 and beyond. To learn more about healthy living, visit www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle. For more information on customized wellness programs at Mayo Clinic, view our Healthy Living Program.

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Buying your first home? Follow this New Year’s plan to get fiscally fit


new-buying-first-home

(BPT) – So buying a new home tops your list of New Year’s resolutions. As you picture the big moment—the one where you pull up to your dream home in your moving truck, sprint up and unlock your front door—you probably understand there’s something you need to do first. You need to get your finances in shape.

Just like those who make resolutions to run a marathon, making this big investment starts with a plan. Runners know that if they run a certain distance each day, it gets them closer to accomplishing their goal.

“The same is true, in many ways, when it comes to buying a home,” says Eric Hamilton, president of Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance. “Before taking on a loan, many home buyers find they need to build their ‘financial muscles’ and establish ‘healthy’ money habits.”

By following a few tips to reach financial fitness goals, you, too can achieve the goal of home ownership.

Do those daily sprints

People who reach their fitness goals begin with a look at their current habits and then make a plan to replace them with better ones. The same is true for homebuyers. First, look at the spending choices you’ve been making, and review three to six months’ worth of bank statements. Consider what is necessary and what needs to cut back. The goal is to trim the fat in your budget so you can use the extra money to reduce your debt and increase your savings.

Crunch your debt

Take a look at your debts and consider the monthly payments you make. Are there any debts standing in the way of making a house payment affordable? Those are the ones you want to knock out with an accelerated payment plan, using the money you freed up by cutting back on unnecessary expenses. Try focusing on one debt at a time, paying close attention to the ones with the highest interest rates to pay off first.

Beef up your credit score

The good habits you exercise today will make all the difference on your interest rate later. Put in the extra work to raise your credit score. Your credit score pulls together many details from your past and current debts as well as other financial factors, and helps lenders determine your creditworthiness. Making the effort to raise your score is worthwhile because shaving off even one-quarter of a percentage point from a mortgage loan can potentially save you thousands of dollars in interest over the life of a 30-year mortgage. A credit score factors your history of on-time payments, the amount you owe on your debts, the type of credit you have, the age of that debt and any recently opened new credit lines as well as other factors. You may be able to improve your score and get the lowest possible interest rate on a home loan if you follow these “reps” every month: pay all your bills on time, don’t close old credit card accounts and don’t open new lines of credit.

Increase your intake of savings

Even when paying down debt, it’s still a good idea to start a small savings plan so you have some cash to fall back on if, say, you need to go to the doctor or get new tires for your car. Start by opening a savings account and set up automatic transfers each month. Even with $50 a month, you’ll have $600 in one year, which could bail you out of a number of small emergencies. Eventually, once your debts are paid off, you can divert those payments right into savings, which also can build your down payment for that new dream home

Prepare for the big event

All these steps lead to one main event: buying a home. Once you meet those smaller goals – following a budget, eliminating debt, raising your credit score, and saving for your down payment – you’re ready for the final push toward home ownership.

First, figure out how much home you can afford: look at home prices in your area, use an online loan calculator to estimate your payments, and go through your budget. Then gather up the financial documents you’ll need, including proof of employment, bank statements and tax statements. Finally, choose a lender that is right for you. Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, Inc. has many programs that can fit many kinds of buyers. Perhaps you’re getting your first mortgage, have perfect credit, and in some cases, less-than-perfect credit. All loan programs are subject to credit approval and restrictions apply. Contact Vanderbilt for details. If you are interested in learning more about Vanderbilt, visit, http://www.vmfhomeloan.com. Vanderbilt is a Berkshire Hathaway national housing lender that has been in business for more than 40 years and has helped families just like yours find the right financing program.

“Following these habits can be challenging from a motivation standpoint,” Hamilton says. “It takes patience, but once you’ve followed the steps to get financially healthy, it is a very rewarding experience.”

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BBB New Year’s Resolutions for 2012


This week a security company’s computer was hacked and money stolen from many customer accounts.  It’s more important than ever to resolve to be a savvy internet user and wise consumer. Your Better Business Bureau offers the following New Year’s resolutions to become a safer and wiser consumer in 2012:

1.    Fight identity theft. Always shred paper documents that include sensitive financial data and dispose of computers, cell phones and digital data safely.  Don’t provide your social security number, credit card number, debit card pin, bank account information, or your driver’s license number to anyone on the phone unless you are certain they represent a legitimate business.  Don’t leave financial information in your mailbox that might be accessed by identity thieves.
2.    Keep criminals from stealing information on your computer and online.  Every password and every computer can be hacked with enough time and effort. Purchase virus software and keep it updated.  Don’t click through to links or websites you are unsure of.  The more difficult you make it for someone to get your password, the better.  Use at least 8 characters in your password, only do business online with reputable organizations on secure (https) websites.  Don’t use the same password on different important online accounts.
3.    Beware of job offers to make easy money. Scammers are targeting job hunters, so beware of offers, work-at-home schemes or business opportunities promising big money for little work and no experience.
4.    Never wire money to someone you don’t know. Many scammers request that you wire money back to them. Scammers know tracking money sent via MoneyGram or Western Union is extremely difficult. Even more troubling, it’s nearly impossible to get your money back.
5.    Fight fake check fraud. Educate yourself on the common types of check fraud and be wary of checks that come with claims you’ve won the lottery, are eligible for a government grant or have landed a job as a secret shopper.
6.    Get everything in writing. Don’t just take a business’ word for it. Get agreements in writing to limit miscommunication and misunderstandings between your expectations and what the business delivers.
7.    Look for the BBB seal and always check businesses out before buying. 400,000 businesses meet the BBB’s Standards for Trust and bear the BBB Accreditation Seal.   Your BBB doesn’t just report on Accredited Businesses, you can access BBB Business Reviews for nearly 4 million businesses by visiting www.bbb.org or calling (616)774-8230 or toll free (800)684-3222.
8.    Ask your BBB for help. File a complaint with your BBB if you have a disagreement with a business or been ripped off by a scammer.  The BBB will contact the business and ask for their explanation of the issue.  Often, the BBB can assist in reaching a resolution.

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