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Extending Grace to Others

A few different images might spring to mind when you hear the word "grace". For some of us it can be the grace of a ballerina as she moves with elegance and precision. For others, you may envision a family gathered before a meal saying a prayer of gratitude. Today we are using 'grace' as a verb. To give grace is to extend consideration, patience, and goodwill to someone who may not have earned it.

Life moves fast these days and I, like many of us, find patience to be a challenge at times. I struggle with the impulse to give criticism, to quietly judge, and find others' timelines not suitable to my own. I am impatient in situations where a better version of me might find patience. I write people off in situations where I would want another chance.

I am working hard to practice giving grace more often. I have found that if I stop and take the time to put myself in other people's shoes and attempt to understand what others may be going through, it becomes easier to...

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4 Ways to a Fresh Start in 2018

I have to be honest, I love the new year. A blank slate and a fresh start to set goals and make plans is invigorating to me, but I know that it isn't the same for everyone. Some may consider them trite, but even if resolutions aren't for you, how about finding a way to challenge yourself in 2018? Here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Get moving. There is never a bad time to add some physical activity to your routine! Whether that's getting up 20 minutes early for a jog, or starting a new sport with your kids.

2. Journaling. Whether it's a couple sentences about your day or daily gratitude, this is one habit that can help you feel more focused and centered. A prayer journal or a family journal are also great ways to get started. 

3. Strengthen relationships. Life gets busy. The older that we get, the easier it becomes to slip from spending time with people we cherish. Commit to a date night or visiting...

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Grow Your Community. Buy Local.

Now that Thanksgiving dinner has been eaten and 'Black Friday' has passed, I wanted to take the opportunity to remind you to buy local as much as possible this holiday season.

Sure, Amazon is easy and Wal-Mart is cheap - but at what cost is cheap and easy worth it? The reality is that if we want to have locally-owned restaurants and stores - the traditional "mom and pop" businesses - they need our support now more than ever.

Why does it matter? Because small local businesses are the heartbeat of our community. They create local jobs, they re-invest the money back into our town, and they offer personalized customer service you don't find at the big-box chains. They're run by your family members, neighbors, and friends from church.

I can't say I don't ever use Amazon or go to a big box store, but I can say I try, and I'm going to try even harder this holiday season....but not because it's cheap or easy - because it's worth it. Our community is worth it.

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It's about MAKING time.

So often I think to myself that I wish I had time for this event, or that activity. I wish I had more time to spend on hobbies, or on projects that I've been meaning to get to. Time is a tricky thing. It's the one thing we all seem to have the least of, despite having schedules that are busier than ever. As a new father, I am feeling the time crunch particularly. My son is already 3 months old, and there doesn't seem to be enough time to do all of the things that we want to do.

My way of trying to combat the shortage of time is to remind myself that it isn't really about having time at all. We all have the exact same 24 hours every day. The key is MAKING time. Making time for what's important, honoring my time commitments, being focused and diligent with how I spend my time. I can spend the next 30 minutes working, or relaxing and watching tv, or trying to get my son to laugh one more time. On different days I'll make different choices, but I will continue to strive to make...

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Rusty's Corner: Why Does it Take a Tragedy?

I love the way our communities have come together and bonded in the past week after Irma's disastrous visit. I've seen neighbors pull together to clean up fallen trees, throw sand bags, and offer a warm shower to someone without power.  
It's a shame, though, that it takes an event like this to see our neighborhoods really unite. 
We've seen it numerous times - the 9/11 attacks, Virginia Tech's shootings, Hurricane Katrina, The Orlando Pulse shootings, and now Irma. 
We forget our differences and come together as Americans. #prayfor(insert location here) goes viral on social media. Random acts of kindness are shown all over the news. Money pours into the Red...
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Rusty's Corner: The Paradox of Freedom

As Americans, we get to experience something that few others enjoy - the freedom of choiceWe get the to choose our employer, our spouse, and even how to spend our resources. 

Freedom of choice, as great as it is though, doesn't give us the freedom from consequences. Consequences can be penalties or rewards, but your choices are what determine the results.
If I choose to focus on my health by working out and eating right, I will reap the consequences of strength and endurance. If I choose to work 70 hours a week, I will reap the positive consequences of career and financial growth, but I may also reap the negative consequence of the toll on my marriage.
When it comes right down to it, our future is determined by the sum of our choices we make today. With that in mind, what choices will you make today so that you can enjoy the consequences in the future?

Rusty's Corner: New Beginnings

Spring is a time of new beginnings. You see it in plants with blooming flowers. You see it in animals as they become more active. We see it in kid's lives with graduations. Spring cleaning. Spring weddings. 
For me personally, this spring is a time to prepare for an exciting new beginning as fatherhood nears and I get to welcome my son into the world. Starting something new is exciting, overwhelming, and scary all at the same time. It's an opportunity to expand your horizon mixed in with a bit of fear of the unknown. We don't all have such large changes in the spring, but I think it's still a great time for starting something new. 
I wanted to take this opportunity to encourage you to create a new beginning in your life. It can be anything from running a marathon to learning to growing a garden in your backyard. 
Whatever you choose, take the first step. It'll be worth it, but only if you get started.

Rusty's Corner: Your Corner of the World

Reading through headlines from around the world can sometimes make me feel a little discouraged. There are so many places where I wish I had the resources and power to affect change, but I am left with the humbling awareness that I am just one person. I can, however, use this awareness to focus on the areas in my life where I can make an impact - my family, our community, and our local charities. I believe that if we all do our part to contribute and improve our own little corner of the world, then eventually, the world will take care of itself. I would much rather focus on where I can contribute and help improve the world, than to let pessimism on where I can't stop me.

My challenge to you today is to look around our community and find those places where you can make an impact, and go do it. To steal the famous quote, I encourage you to "be the change you wish to see in the world."

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Rusty's Corner: Create Margin in Your Life

Margin can be defined as the space between our loads, and our limits. There are many ways we can create margin in our lives, and it’s something that we have to work to create. We can build margin through a savings account, padding that will help carry us through life’s emergencies. You can also build margin by learning to say no, something that is difficult for many of us! Respect that your time is limited, and be intentional with how you use that time by setting healthy boundaries. Just like the margins on a piece of paper, build the extra space in your life so things don’t get too full and make sure that what you fill the page with, is what matters most to you.

Rusty's Corner: Grateful Living

An attitude of gratitude can turn whatever we have into enough. I was reading an article recently and was impressed to learn some health benefits that come from adopting a grateful spirit including reduced aggression, improved sleep quality, and increased resiliency. All from something as simple as choosing to live life with a sense of gratitude! It's easy to focus on the things that we want and the things that we need instead of what we have but if we approach our lives from a position of deeply felt gratitude, even if our circumstances stay the same, our lives change.