Sacred Restraint

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Financial Stewardship: Rent, Borrow or Barter

by Kat Hnatyshyn, Community of Christ member and author of “Kat’s Money Corner” for the Kansas City Star “Dollars and Sense” blog

Kat Hnatyshyn

Kat Hnatyshyn


The road to financial health is a marathon, not a sprint. Along the way, we pick up a few paces by saving chunks of change wherever possible. They definitely add up, and so do the dollars we don’t spend.

Check out CommunityAmerica Savin’ Maven Kat Hnatyshyn’s most recent post on The Kansas City Star’s Dollars & Sense blog where she shares why some of the easiest purchases to avoid are the one-and-done items – things we may need at the moment but will likely never use again.


Financial Stewardship: Don’t Budget Your Wellbeing Out of the Picture

by Kat Hnatyshyn, Community of Christ member and author of “Kat’s Money Corner” for the Kansas City Star “Dollars and Sense” blog

Kat Hnatyshyn

Kat Hnatyshyn


When money is tight, some of the expenses people cut first are the gym and the spa. It’s understandable. Most of us don’t want to go to the gym anyway, and what good is the pleasure of a massage or pedicure if it’s ridden with guilt?

Pampering and working out are definitely areas to trim some budget fat, but don’t cut them out of the picture altogether.

Check out CommunityAmerica Savin’ Maven Kat Hnatyshyn’s most recent post in The Kansas City Star’s Personal Finance section where she shares inexpensive and free options available to keep you looking and feeling good!


Sacred / Secular Creation


All sorts of people are here at the shopping mall.

Well, not all sorts, really.  Mostly upper middle class Americans, white, under sixty.  I’ve been here for a couple of hours, sipping my Starbucks iced tea and watching these passersby.  I see fashionable handbags, plenty of teenagers, and pricey blue jeans.  It’s an exhilarating place to be.  There is something electrifying about the temptation of new shoes and food court cinnamon rolls.  I find myself restless and eager.

What do I not see?  There is no mention of the depletion of God’s sacred Creation which makes this material abundance possible.  Strip mines produce building materials.  Coal-fired power plants provide energy for air conditioning while emitting greenhouse gases.  Landfills overflow with our “old” cast off purchases.

All this abundance, though manipulated by human ingenuity, science and engineering, is principally a gift from God.   We depend upon the natural world for resources to fuel, fabricate, and build.  We rely on God for our human capacity to imagine and create.  In a way, even this bustling shopping mall is an extension of sacred creation.  How can this be considered sacred?  It’s seems to be a shrine to human consumption.

The term “sacred” implies something set apart, consecrated, as a place of spiritual reverence and respect.  We often translate this as “religious”.  By contrast, we use the term “secular” to indicate that which stands outside the bounds of the spiritual realm.  They are those things which seem exempt from the requirements of religious discipline.  This distinction conveniently masks our responsibility as disciples outside of Sunday morning’s sacred space.

Jesus is our living example of the sacred enmeshed in ordinary human experience.  God With Us demonstrated that those things people easily detach from that which is sacred – societal outcasts, tax collectors, sinners and prostitutes – have a place in His sacred presence.  The sacred is present in our everyday experience, shaping our behavior and offering hope.

Do we acknowledge God in the marketplace, what seems to be a most secular space?   How do our consumption habits honor God?  One key is waste.  It is true that consumerism drives the market which provides for jobs and prosperity.  But at what point does our “perceived obsolescence” mentality become out of balance and unduly deplete the environment?  When do we become content with our lifestyle and possessions – reducing and reusing, rather than discarding our still-functional furniture for the latest décor trends or trashing our home electronics for the newest technology?

Young adult generations are at the forefront of advocacy for environmental stewardship.  We recognize that we will be left to heal the consequences of our greed.  I have seen many sporting “Go Green” t-shirts, bumper stickers, and protest signs.  Yet a majority of the people strolling past my mall bench are young adults.

One of the greatest challenges for my generation will be to set aside our consumption-driven lifestyles for the sake of creation.  Are we willing to sacrifice measuring up to the social standards of material success and appearance for the sake of Creation?  Wearing the “Go Green” t-shirt is one thing.  Wearing last season’s out-of-style shirt is another.  What is the price my generation is willing to pay to free ourselves from the silent grip of unhealthy consumerism?  I have seen encouraging models in some of my young adult colleagues, our young leaders of this church.

Along with balanced buying habits, awareness of the environmental footprint of brands and products we purchase is important.  The Better World Handbook is an excellent tool for investigating these ratings.

Even the marketplace is enmeshed in sacred creation.  Our everyday choices in this “secular” realm are spiritual ones.   All of us must be mindful of God’s presence and provision, setting apart even the high-end shopping mall as sacred space.


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Financial Stewardship: Frugal vs. Cheapskate

by Kat Hnatyshyn, Community of Christ member and author of “Kat’s Money Corner” for the Kansas City Star “Dollars and Sense” blog

Kat Hnatyshyn

Kat Hnatyshyn

Have you seen the show Extreme Cheapskates? It’s a showcase of radical penny-pinching like using one light bulb for the entire house or hand-washing your clothes in the bathtub while you are showering. Being frugal simply means getting the most out of whatever money you have. Being cheap is more the fear of spending, which can actually cost you in the long run.

Check out CommunityAmerica Savin’ Maven Kat Hnatyshyn’s most recent post on The Kansas City Star’s Dollars & Sense blog where she offers some reasonable alternatives to these more extreme lengths. Eventually we all get what we pay for.


Just Breathe: 10 Important Things to Remember in Times of Transition

There is a scene from the 1998 movie, “Ever After” that always strikes a chord with me. The main character is on the brink of a major role transition. She is walking into a room full of people that hold titles and power she does not. Although she has done the best she can to prepare herself to survive (at least until midnight) there can be no guarantee that things won’t go terribly wrong. She stands at a precipice. Instead of retreating back to the situation she was most familiar and comfortable with however she bolsters her courage, calms her nerves, and whispers those two famous words before taking that first leap of faith into the unknown.

Just breathe…

On high school, college, and university campuses all over the world, students from all different backgrounds and circumstances are preparing to make a leap of faith of their own out into an unknown future. Should I go to college? Which college? What job should I take? Is graduate school the right path for me? Like our hero from, “Ever After” the thought of stepping into the unknown can be one of the riskiest things we ever do.

It requires faith.

It requires courage.

It often requires a dependency on others we might not be comfortable with.

It requires persistence.

Above all, I believe it takes a sense of connectedness and a trust in the belief that there really is a plan for us.

What can I tell you that might help you make your big choices? In the last seven years I have made it my job to become an expert in career exploration, successful job search strategy, and vocational discernment. I have watched thousands of students transition to Graceland University as First Year Students who struggle to find their place, and then transition again to new grads struggling to discern their professional niche. I could provide you with mountains of data, anecdotal accounts, and the names of some super awesome books, but in the interest of time, let me sum up the bulk of what I have learned in 10 points.

  1. The person that knows your heart’s desire best is you. While others mean well, and love you very much, and have experienced insights about you, it is YOUR voice that needs to be the one that counts most. This is not to say the voices of others don’t have value or truth. It only means that we cannot hear our own truth when too many voices invade our space at once. You would be best served to discern which one of those voices is yours, and which are well meaning loved ones.
  2. A degree is not a promise of a satisfying job, or a job at all for that matter. While statistically a degree should mean that you will earn a million more dollars over the course of your working life, success in gaining a job you love means doing things outside of the classroom too. Volunteer. Travel. Do an internship. Join a club. Employers are no longer impressed by your Bachelor of Arts Degree alone.
  3. The days where you could take a job and stay there forever are gone (yay, right??) This means that focusing on your unique strengths, the ability to learn, grow, reflect, and adapt are non-negotiable qualities in building a satisfying life. Start viewing yourself as an entrepreneur. What great services can you offer? What can you learn from one job that can make you awesome at the next one?
  4. You have a long life ahead of you. Hypothetically, if you began work at age 22, you will spend about 43 years, or about 86,000 hours of it working. If you have a career dream that requires a young and healthy body, go for it while you’re young! Statistically you will have between 10- 14 different jobs during the course of your working life. SO if you want to major in dance do it. If you want to join a band, now is the time! If you want to play football at college, do it! If you want to try out a career in modeling, what are you waiting for? These careers are short lived. There is NO RUSH to get yourself to a “real” career when you are 21. You can learn great lessons in a variety of ways.
  5. Less debt means more freedom to make decisions. Enough said.
  6. The road to a good life is very rarely in a straight line. Expect detours. Expect the universe to throw you a couple curve balls. Expect that what you thought was your dream is only a first clue on the path to who you are meant to become. Have you ever heard the saying, “If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans?” True statement.
  7. What you are passionate about right now is not necessarily your calling. Passions are things we do. They change, develop, evolve, and sometimes burn out. Your calling will not change, and has always been with you. Listening for and embracing your calling can give you the gift of stability and peace in an uncertain future. In the process of being who we are called to be, we also bless and empower others.
  8. Your major. Does it matter? Sometimes yes but more often the answer is no. Employers rate “working successfully in a team” and “critical thinking skills” above other technical skills. If you can prove that you can do those things, it won’t matter that your major was Philosophy (as long as you don’t want to go into a field that requires a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, or math.)
  9. Your community matters. Did you know that most people find job opportunities because someone they know has a connection to the employer? I also probably don’t need to tell you that breaking out in a new community can be scary. Our level of happiness is in direct correlation to the closeness of our relationships. Keep in touch with family and friends. Find a church home or other supportive group of people to spend time with. You’ll be happier (and more likely to find employment or other interesting opportunities).
  10. Prayer, meditation, exercise and healthy habits provide fertile ground for creativity and inspiration to take root. We also must learn to listen to the still small voice inside of us that prompts us in directions we don’t understand. Do you feel inspired to take a pottery class? Have you felt compelled to stop by and talk to someone? This is often the gentle way God moves us. If you get a “wink” or a “nudge” don’t be afraid to act! A conversation you have with a friend today or an event you make a random choice about participating in next week could alter your path in a thousand ways that are impossible to unravel right now. (There is actually a career development theory attached to this by the way…I didn’t make that up.)

In conclusion my friends, as you stand in the doorway of possibility take a moment to reflect on the courage it took for you to get here in the first place. Know that you’ve got angel’s wings at your back and just breathe…

You will get to where you need to be eventually. God is patient.


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When Did I Become a Grown-up?

grow upLet me preface my post by saying that at this moment in time, I am 32 and I am a single mother, raising an 8-year-old son. I moved back in with my parents when my first marriage ended just before my son was born. I am now planning my wedding to my second husband, buying a house, attending seminary, and doing a myriad of other “grown-up” things. As I sit here, preparing to write this post, I am struck by how seemingly all of a sudden, I am finally feeling like a “grown-up,” and because of that, both terrified and excited.

When I took Developmental Psychology at Graceland back in the early 2000s, one of the topics that came up was the extension of adolescence in our society. I am a living example of that. Now, in my 30s, I feel like I am finally ready to take the steps into independent adulthood. I made my fair share of poor choices in my early 20s that I feel extended my “adolescence” as a consequence. That being said, during the time since, I have rebuilt my foundation, spiritually and otherwise, and am now making more confident steps forward, being a better example for my son, preparing to be a better wife for my soon-to-be husband.

As I take these steps forward, I find that I have to be diligent about not beating myself up over my past “mistakes.” When I do, I fall into this downward spiral of regret, and it can be paralyzing. Over time, I learn more and more how important it is to come out of myself, be present in the moment and use my time as the precious gift that it is. Taking better care of myself, attending to the obligations that I set up for myself and others, these things take time and energy, but I feel so much better overall for keeping up with them.

Even in taking these steps, it can be so easy to fall back into the adolescent “blame game” and making decisions based on what I want, rather than thinking of others. That has played into my recent housing decisions. My fiancé and I were planning on moving in together a few months before our planned wedding date. However, we quickly learned that that choice had consequences beyond our desire to spend more time together, and pool our resources sooner to help pay for the house, wedding and honeymoon. We struggled through this decision, recognizing the strain that we saw it putting on our families, both blood and church families.  The decision that we eventually made was a compromise on our parts, and something that hopefully prevents pain and discord in our respective circles. Having made that choice, including others in the process, engaging in prayer and discernment, I feel as though it was the “grown-up” thing to do.

When did I become a grown-up? When I realized that it was not all about me. Sometimes I get that lesson more than others. Let’s just say it’s a day by day process.


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