I am so grateful to God for sending Jesus. He was the ultimate gift. His example is what we need to follow after every day. This picture is of my family hiking the Great Wall in Beijing on our summer vacation to China. Yes, we went to China and paid CASH! It was an experience I won’t soon forget. I am so thankful to God that we had such a wonderful opportunity. We had some wonderful Christian neighbors we stayed with and took us around the major tourist attractions. It truly was the trip of a lifetime!
I wanted to share some of the things I learned while I was there. The things made me appreciate our country and the God that we serve.
- Freedom of religion is not to be taken lightly. I can praise my Heavenly Father anytime I want! Many times I will be in company when I do it too because more than 75% of Americans proclaim Christ. In China however, that number is less than 30% and finding a church is even more challenging.
- I learned that privacy is relative. In China, you never know who is watching your comings and goings. The government is highly involved in your life. In America, most of the time we can feel secure when we close our door at night. That isn’t the case everywhere.
- We are definitely a wealthy country. No matter what the dollar is worth, how the stocks perform, or what the unemployment rate is; we make a lot of money overall. Did you know that the average annual income in Beijing was $2715 in 2005? That is less than unemployment benefits in Arizona! No wonder they have shared living spaces, one child per family, and eat simply!
This holiday season I purpose to be thankful for God’s many blessings and look for ways to share that with others. Our trip to China was outstanding but also a fantastic reminder of how blessed we are. Not only is Jesus the reason for the season but frankly He must be the reason for everything. This Christmas make sure that everything you do has Christ at the center and helps others to acknowledge Him as well.
Get Real and Get Ready!
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!!! The holidays are upon us. Are you ready? Typically we gauge our preparedness for the holidays by our timeliness of the following things: getting the tree trimmed, buying gifts, sending out Christmas cards, etc. I’d like to adjust the way you view your holiday planning. Until you’ve written down a detailed list of what these holidays will cost you aren’t completely prepared. As of this writing I see some areas that I myself have missed and need to prepare more accurately for. Yes it may sound like overkill, but come January 1, 2012 you don’t want to be experiencing a 2011 Holiday Hangover because you didn’t accurately assess what your wonderful holidays would cost. That is a good way to overspend and the holidays sure aren’t as festive when there’s debt at the end of it. Create a detailed list of the following items with dollar amounts and come to grips with your holiday spending.
Your holiday worksheet should have the following categories:
- Gifts and gift wrap (family members, co-worker, friends, neighbors, secret santas, teachers, coaches, hostesses, pastors, care-givers, mail carriers, hairstylists, babysitters, maid service, etc).
- Decorations (tree/wreath, lights, etc)
- Food and beverages
- Greeting cards, film processing, family portraits
- Postage, shipping and boxes
- Holiday events and parties
- Holiday attire
If you’ve already begun your holiday spending simply back track and see how much you’ve spent so far and what needs to happen in the next 27 days. There is still time to get on track and stay on track. You need to know what you typically spend each year. A great goal for starting off the 2012 New Year is to save all your funds for the holidays before they even begin. Just divide your total holiday expenses by 12 and save that amount each month. Why wait until 2012 to begin setting goals? Start now and Get Real!
Keep the holidays in perspective while you shop and complete your list. The true reason for the season is the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is the greatest gift you can ever give to those you love and care about.