Editor’s Corner: Getting Your House Together

My “Editor’s Corner” also dealt with “Getting Your House Together.”

The theme of this issue is “Getting your house together.” It is crucial that we make positive steps toward improving our overall health (emotional/mental, physical and spiritual).

 

While the terms emotional health and mental health are often used interchangeably, some separate emotional health as the ability to express feelings based on circumstances and mental health as the ability to process information. Others refer to it all as mental health, which includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. For the purpose of this article, we will use the latter.

 

Our mental health impacts how we act, feel, think, handle stress, relate to others and make decisions. Mental health is important from childhood to old age because feelings like anxiety and depression can occur in all age groups. If you are overwhelmed and need help, please seek counseling! There is no social taboo to this. Many employers offer an Employee Assistant Program, which often includes a few free sessions. If more counseling is required, a referral can be made, and counseling may be covered by your insurance.

 

In addition, many suffer from stress. Stress can impact our mental and physical health. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that we reduce situations in our lives that are causing us stress, especially if they are things we can change. For example, work can cause stress so determining if it’s a “normal” level of stress or a toxic work culture that needs to be left is key. Some ways to reduce stress are exercising, being outside, having pets and journaling. Also remember that the Bible says that laughter is good medicine, so seek things that bring you joy. Research shows that laugher boosts your immune system, eases pain and relaxes your body – all ways to reduce stress!

 

I also sincerely encourage the practice of taking good care of your physical health! Some of us face health issues like high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. This could be because of genetics as well as poor diet and lack of exercise. A huge part of physical health is eating nutritional foods, exercising, drinking water and getting enough rest. Don’t forget about routine health checkups like getting your eyes examined, teeth cleaned, annual physicals, prostate exams, breast exams, colonoscopies, etc.

 

On the spiritual side, I find that simply singing encouraging music while I am walking is very effective. It is a way I turn my mind off when my thoughts start to wander in unnecessary areas. I simply refocus my attention by singing praises to God. I find myself walking around my job humming songs. In addition, prayer and Bible Study are always key to improving your outlook on life.

 

In this season, I am so aware of the importance of having a loving church community. Members of PCC, you guys are awesome. We do a good job of coming together and showering each other with love and fulfilling needs that arise. Having strong connections and a strong support network (be it family, friends or church) contributes to your overall happiness.

 

A big part of getting your house together is getting help from any addictions. These addictions could be drugs, alcohol, sex, food, cigarettes, exercise, etc. Basically, anything you do to

self-medicate.

 

To be your best, you must get your house together! As you turn the page to a new decade, place a priority on improving your emotional/mental, physical and spiritual health. Freeing yourself gives you a chance to pursue the hobbies and relationships that give you the most pleasure and support your purpose.

 

Word of the Quarter: Getting Your House Together

The editing team wrote about “Getting Your House Together.”

Last issue, we started a new overarching theme of “Anchored” with the topic of “Returning to the source.” With this issue, we continue the overarching theme with the subject of “Getting your house together.”

 

When the editing team met, we asked the question, “How do you know your house is not in order?” There could be signs and symptoms in your behavior like lashing out at loved ones or unhealthy coping mechanisms (food, alcohol, drugs, etc.). There could be emotional and health symptoms like depression, anxiety, stress and high blood pressure. There could be relational issues like abuse or codependency.

 

Unfortunately, we go so fast that it often takes a tragedy or a health condition to slow us down. If you don’t slow down to recognize the condition of your house, life may slow you down.

 

In Matthew 6:33, the Bibles tells us, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” So, the first step is putting God in the right place. This will direct the rest of your decisions. Take the first part of the day to acknowledge God and ask for direction. As you go through the day, prioritize. Ask yourself, “What are my priorities?” If you say God and family but consistently work hours of overtime, with no time for either, then you need to readjust. As you readjust, it may be wise to seek an accountability partner.

 

Take care of yourself and then take care of others. It’s like when you fly on an airplane. The flight attendant tells you to put your oxygen mask on before helping others. At some point, we all have needed help be it emotional, spiritual or financial. It could also be needing help with running errands or doing chores. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help and invite support from trusted family and friends. We don’t have to do everything by ourselves. If you need to be held up in prayer, ask. If you need help with errands and chores, ask.

 

It is important to know when you can help someone and when helping someone will pull you away from your call and purpose or drain you emotionally. Learn when to say, “No.” That is why it’s important to know your purpose. The more you align with your purpose, the more you know when it’s time to say, “No.” Whatever you do should be aligned with fulfilling it. If necessary, seek counseling. To supplement therapy, you can also read or listen to self-help books.

 

Getting your house together aligns with the previous subtheme of going back to basics. This could start with your family. Teach your children life skills to be independent and less reliant on you, especially as they get older. In addition to providing shelter and food, we need to give our children a sense of belonging, purpose and support as well as instill life skills. We encourage you to find balance. It could be putting the phone down at the dinner table to connect with family and friends.

 

Why are we getting our houses together? Getting yourself together gives you the ability to give back. When you are fully anchored, you can live out your purpose and live more intentionally.

 

Men of the Bible – Jeremiah

I wrote about Jeremiah for “Men of the Bible.” He’s is one of my favorites.

Name: Jeremiah

Meaning: Jehovah establishes, or the Lord is exalted

His Character: Although Jeremiah struggled with feelings of loneliness, insecurity and doubt (because he constantly faced opposition), he spoke God’s messages with honesty and conviction.

His Sorrow: The people did not heed his prophecies, and he knew what the cost of their disobedience would be. The people not listening caused him deep sorrow, and he suffered from depression. Under Jewish tradition, he was stoned to death by fellow Jews in Egypt.

His Triumph: Despite the personal costs, Jeremiah was a faithful and true messenger of God’s words. In the end, his prophecies did come to pass but that was no comfort to him because of the suffering the people went through.

Key Scriptures: Book of Jeremiah

Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah. Hilkiah was a priest from the tribe of Benjamin and from the city of Anathoth, which means “answered prayers.”

 

Jeremiah was a prophet of God, and he is the author of the book of Jeremiah, which is found in the Old Testament. The book of Lamentations is often credited to him. He is also believed to be the author of the two books of Kings. His 40-year ministry took place during the reigns of the last five kings of Judah. His messages primarily pertained to Judah, but he also received messages for other nations.

 

When God called Jeremiah into ministry through a vision, God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah’s response was that he was too young. He is believed to have been 12 or 13 at the time. God’s response was, “…Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak…behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.”

 

Jeremiah spoke during a time when society was deteriorating spiritually and politically after the death of King Josiah. For a time, King Josiah had brought Judah back into alignment with God. There were wars, and God’s words were not wanted or heeded. Jeremiah’s main message was that repentance would postpone the judgement that was coming to Judah at the hands of the Babylonians. Regardless of Jeremiah’s passionate and consistent prophecies, the people would not listen. Although he admonished them to act, they refused to do so.

 

Despite many attempts on his life, Jeremiah continued to act as God’s prophet. He was thrown into prison and into a cistern. He was taken to Egypt against his will. He was rejected by most: family, friends, neighbors, kings and audiences. Jeremiah often stood alone and struggled with isolation. Despite all of that, he pressed on with his messages of doom and wept over the fate of his country.

 

Jeremiah was a man whose grief, sorrow and anguish ran deep, and he is known as the “weeping prophet.” He was brokenhearted because he knew, as God’s prophet, what lay ahead for the country of Judah and its capital, Jerusalem. Jeremiah wept because he knew God’s judgement would rain down and destruction would follow. He wept because the people had rejected God and their sinfulness would bring suffering and exile. His sadness ran so deep that he cursed the day that he was born.

 

As the Bible tells us in Ecclesiastes 3, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

 

We chose Jeremiah because he is an example of the toil our walks with God can sometimes have on our psyches. As Christians, we forget that we have examples of people who have walked closely with God who have dealt with sadness and loneliness. Yet despite the costs, they continued with their ministries and walks.

 

Your Money Matters: Seeking Help

Here is the “Your Money Matter” section of the latest PCC Scroll. I write about “Seeking Help” with your finances.

Juggling finances is not for the faint of heart. There are so many goals and priorities that compete for our limited resources. There is balancing basic month-to-month expenses such as housing, transportation, utilities, groceries, etc. There is managing debt like student loans, credit cards and car payments. There is building savings accounts and emergency funds. There is investing in 401s and IRAs. There is enjoying the fruit of your labor with things like vacations and eating out.

 

When it comes to managing finances, there is a wealth of information online. For example, Dave Ramsey and NerdWallet have websites centered around financial advice and information. Companies like J.P. Morgan and Charles Schwab have a wealth of information available online as well. With all of the information available, how do you know which information is true and can be trusted? Online information can lead to other questions as well at which point it could be necessary to seek professional advice.

 

How do you know when it’s time to seek a financial advisor? There could be various reasons. Some people don’t want to manage their financial portfolio. It could be because they lack the time to manage it or lack the knowledge on how to manage it. Others feel lost and overwhelmed when it comes to planning, so they need guidance. Others may just want a neutral third party when it comes to making financial decisions. Recently, my advisor gave me counsel that stopped me from making a decision based on a short-term gain by reminding me of my long-term goals. This advice not only saved me money; it will also grow my account over time. Needing financial advice could also be situational like nearing retirement, getting married or starting a business.

 

The right financial planner will help you make decisions that align with your long-term financial goals simply by reminding you of what they are. They will also listen to you and respect your risk comfort level. An advisor can help you with your finances in areas like investing, financial planning, retirement planning, etc. Dealing with stocks, estate management and retirement accounts can be complicated. An advisor can help you navigate these channels.

 

For me, the decision to hire a financial advisor came down to

self-discipline. History has taught me that I am not discipled in keeping track of the market and adjusting my portfolio as needed. So, for me, it’s worth investing in an advisor who is paying attention to Wall Street. In theory, the fee will pay for itself in the long run. In addition, there are times when I am prepared to pay for services in areas I am not good in. Financial planning is not my background, so I sought a professional in that area. This is along the same lines as me having a hairdresser, lawyer and mechanic. I know where I am gifted and where I am not. While I can create a monthly budget all day, any day, long-term planning remains a little foggy to me.

 

Tax season is also a good time when seeking professional help may be useful. As your taxes get more complicated, it could be good to seek help. If you do your own taxes, it may be a good idea to periodically have an expert do them, if only to make sure you are catching everything.

 

Of course, do it yourself is always an option. It could be because you want to do it yourself. It could be that your budget is tight as you pay off debt. Just make sure you are investing for your future and that you are disciplined enough to keep an eye on your investments. One statistic says that almost half of Americans are not planning for their financial futures. Do not be one of them!

 

When you seek financial help, it is because you are trying to make sound financial decisions and need guidance on how to do so. Be sure to do your due diligence when finding an advisor and be sure to understand their fee structure. Their guidance should lead to peace of mind that you are on the right track.

 

2019 Christmas Letter

Dearest Family and Friends,

Here is my yearly “Christmas” letter. As I have mentioned in the past, it is a “highlights reel” of the year, which of course doesn’t mean everything was perfect. It is a reminder to me (that at the end of the day) there is more “good” than “bad.” This year, as I fell asleep at night, I tried to remember to list out the things I was grateful for. This is a habit I will continue because it has been a positive habit. In the overall scheme of life, I have no complaints. Well I do, but…

For my yearly “big” trip, I went to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. I have been asked several times how I ended up in these countries, and the answer is, “I don’t know.” I literally booked the trip a week before I left. I spent three nights in Tallinn, Estonia; three nights in Riga, Latvia; and three nights in Vilnius, Lithuania. It was my first time to all three countries. If you want to read about my trip, here is the first entry.

Trip Highlights:

  • Learning the history of the three countries, which have all be invaded and occupied over the ages but are now independent.
  • I logged in many steps each day. Just walking around each city was a treat.
  • The image of Alexander Nevsky Orthodox Cathedral (Tallinn) will always remind me of this trip.
  • The Kalamaja area in Tallinn, which has a strong heartbeat. Old abandoned factories have been converted into shopping areas.
  • The sightseeing bus I took while transiting from Tallinn to Riga. I particularly liked Viljandi and Cesis, which were both very charming towns. I also enjoyed our walk through the national park.
  • The Central Market in Riga was amazing! The market is housed in WWI Zeppelin hangers and has outdoor stalls as well. It’s one of the largest markets in Europe.
  • I enjoyed the Miera Iela neighborhood of Riga. It’s a district that is popular with young, “hipster” crowds.
  • Walking around Riga was a treat because of all the Art Nouveau buildings.
  • Remembering the Orthodox father who gave me candy and a smile always makes me smile.
  • In Vilnius, I enjoyed all the high places to get great city views like Gediminas Hill, the Three Crosses and Subacius Observation Area.
  • The “Republic of Uzupis” was awesome!
  • One of my new favorite churches, Shrine of Divine Mercy, with its perfect spirit and altar that says “Jesu, in te confide,” which translates, “Jesus, I trust you.”
  • I am thankful for the people I met a long way. Leonard who I met while walking around Tallinn. Daumants the guide from my sightseeing bus from Tallinn to Riga. Tom a fellow American I met after visiting the new library in Riga. Chin Lin from Malaysia who I kept running into in Riga after taking the Tallinn to Riga tour bus together. The young woman from Toronto who I sat by on my Vilnius to Frankfurt flight.
  • I loved all of the churches, especially the Russian Orthodox churches.
  • Each of the cities have areas going through rebirth. The flip side is that it’s part of the gentrification of areas that is happening all over the world. People who have historically lived there are being pushed out.
  • I remain grateful for the gift of travel. It is a reminder that regardless of race, politics, religion, etc., most people pretty much want the same thing. I am also grateful of history that can teach us lessons if we listen.

 

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My only other trip this year was going to Mississippi over Labor Day weekend to visit family. We had a barbecue in honor of my mom.

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The fitness journey I began in January 2014 continues somewhat, though I did no races this year. I am over hills. LOL! I need to do a better job of hitting the gym and eating right in 2020.

It’s hard to believe my church newsletter is entering its 19th year! In spring 2020, we will publish the 75th issue.

I did not post that much this year. I need to do better in 2020!

A highlight for me in 2019 was when my job had an art exhibit, and I submitted pieces. It was so awesome to see my art displayed!

 

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This year, my dear friend Anh passed away. Anh was one of the first people I met at the port in 1996, 23 years ago, and she was my supervisor for my first two weeks there. We became friends. Then we discovered that we had the same birthday, and it was a wrap. We also shared the same birthday with a woman named Clara, and we did what we called a “fish dinner” every month for years. During that time, they both gave me advice about life, work and finances. Toward the end, are meetings became more like quarterly. Then, at the very end, not at all because Anh was in a nursing home. Once she finally let us see her at the nursing home, we let her know we were there until the end and tried to visit weekly. She passed away during my trip. My memories of her are filled with joy and love. She will be missed.

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I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, and I wish you a Happy New Year!

love. hug. xoxo.

ltb

P.S. Goodbye to 2019 and this decade.

felicia

There and back again…an LTB journey

It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to,” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings.

This morning, I got up at 3:45 a.m. to leave for the airport at 4:45. My flight from Vilnius to Frankfurt left at 6:45 (Flights always sound good when you are booking them but then comes the execution). The flight leaving was delayed 30 minutes because of fog in Frankfurt. I kept thinking, “Just let me make my connection.” But the flights were in the same terminal and the line for Customs was short. Then my flight from Frankfurt to Seattle left was supposed to leave at 10:35. We were delayed because they had to remove the bags of people who did miss the cutoff. I am not sure who they are but that has to suck! I arrived back home at 1:10. Cleared Customs and made my way home!

Thanks so much for following my adventure. I’m not sure what’s next on the travel plans, but I will cook something up! I already have tons of ideas. I do enjoy writing, and I will have my blog posts and travel pictures when I am old and grey remembering the adventures I had in my decadent youth.

Travel is such a beautiful gift. I am global; we are global. I think if more people traveled with an open-heart outside of their comfort zone, we would realize how a like we all are. Regardless of differences of race, religion, nationality and whatever other labels we place on ourselves and other people, we basically want the same thing. We experience the same struggles and heartaches. We experience loss. We experience joy and happiness.

The woman next to me on the flight between Vilnius and Frankfurt lives in Toronto, but she is from Lithuania. She has been in Toronto for 20 years (she left when she was 23). She married a man from the Philippines, and she said back then, it would have been hard on them had they stayed. She traveled home because her father has cancer, and they are getting his will and other end-of-life documents in order. She shared that she lost her mom last year, and I was like I lost mine last year too. Then we exchanged a look because despite not knowing each other, we both understand how that feels. And as humans, we have a lot of shared experiences.

No matter where I have been in the world, children have fallen out and had tantrums. People are out with their friends and family socializing. People are working to provide for their families. Children are unfiltered like the child on the plane who announced quite loudly that he, “Needed to make a poopy.”

I really hate the nationalist/isolationist rhetoric that is being sown worldwide. We are in this together. We can prosper together, or we can struggle together. It’s like the “trade war.” No side wins. Both suffer losses and casualties, and it’s all so unnecessary. This is where I would normally go off on my tangent about why international trade is good!

Now my mission is to do laundry from the trip. Go grocery shopping. Catch up on Greenleaf and Young Sheldon. BTW for those who have watched Greenleaf and Downton Abbey, is it me or are Charity and Lady Edith basically the same character? I need to vote and a much of “to dos” that should go relatively short if I focus. I also need to figure out why my pictures are not posting to my shared site. The photos are uploaded and ready to rock and roll.

Now back to regular programing.

Edits later.

Vilnius – act three

I spent the better part of today in the New Town.

I started off by walking down the length of Gedimino Prospektas. I cut over as things caught my eye like St. Phillip and St. Jacob. If I read correctly, the church has the oldest icon of Mary in Lithuania.

The Museum of Genocide Victims was closed. I would have had to gone Saturday. Saw the Parliament House. The Lithuanian National Drama Theater is undergoing renovations, so I was unable to see the Three Muses.

A little south of Gedimino is Vingis Park, which I walked through a little. I also went to the Romanov Church, which was known as the Orthodox Church of St. Michael and St. Constantine. It was built to mark 300 years of the Romanov dynasty. This was within four years of the dynasty ending. I also saw the Flower Market, which I could have missed but the guidebook mentioned it and it was close to the church. They did have tons of lovely roses. I also saw Kenessa, which is a traditional Karaite prayer house that was built in 1911.

I then went to the Snipiskes district, which is where Soviet concrete building blocks have been replaced with skyscrapers. The business district is called “Sunrise Valley.” I also saw St. Raphael’s Church.

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Then I did some wandering around the Old Town again.

I did a lot of walking. 33,381 steps according to my phone.

Edits when I get home!