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Toolkit

Practical ideas to care for your God-given gifts

Toolkit offers practical ideas to care for yourself and others, particularly in ways that reflect your faith and values. Published every other month, this free newsletter is a quick read – only two pages – on current news and trends with important but simple applications for your life today.

Volume 44, Number 1 - January/February 2017

Historic church vote

Almost 500 years ago Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to a Catholic church door in Wittenberg, Germany, unleashing the creation of many Protestant churches, including the Lutheran Church ... The largest U.S. Lutheran denomination approved a declaration recognizing “there are no longer church-dividing issues” on many points with the Roman Catholic Church … The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted to approve the Declaration on the Way … ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton – as reported by Religion News Service – called the declaration “historic” and said it “serves to embolden our commitment to unity with all Christians.”

Thinking about debt

Many Americans have debt on their minds, according to a recent report by BMO Wealth Management … The bank polled more than 1,000 adults online, asking them about their financial priorities and anxieties … To the question, “What is the single financial priority most important to you?” 31 percent said debt reduction … Twenty-six percent cited increasing their savings, and 21 percent ranked “investing effectively and tax efficiently” as their primary concern … A CNBC online report about the survey noted that some people are working to pay off mortgages before retirement because they worry about debt repayments eating into their income for years to come. If you need counseling, contact Everence for assistance.

Help with educational expenses

Want help paying for college or a trade school? … Consider applying for an Everence® college scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year... Applications will be accepted in January and February ... Students (or a parent or legal guardian) who have owned or used an Everence product since Sept. 1, 2016, are eligible to apply ... Regional winners will receive scholarships of $750, and three recipients will receive additional national scholarships – one of $1,250 (total of $2,000) and two of $250 (total of $1,000) ... The application and eligibility details are at everence.com/college-scholarships.

Nonsense sentence makes sense

Passwords for various websites, computer programs and smartphone apps can help protect our identities, but it’s tempting to come up with passwords that are brief and easy to remember … The problem with that, of course, is that shorter passwords – especially those using common words or number combinations – are easiest for hackers to crack … Consumer Reports suggests putting unrelated words together … “Just pick five long, random words and string them together in a nonsense sentence that you can remember.”

Utah tops happiness scale

Utah and West Virginia are at the opposite ends of the happiness spectrum, according to a recent WalletHub study … The rankings are based on three main factors: emotional and physical well-being, work environment, and community and environment … The five happiest states are Utah, Minnesota, North Dakota, Hawaii and Colorado … West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Arkansas are considered the least-happy states … Sixteen researchers looked at statistics involving health, finances, crime and other ingredients they believe affect happiness to compile the results.

Go ahead and fidget

Fidgeting can be good for you, especially when you’re sitting for a long time … University of Missouri researchers studied healthy men and women before and after three hours of sitting … Participants were asked to tap one foot for a minute, then rest it for four minutes, while keeping the other leg still … The fidgeting leg had a significant increase in blood flow, and better blood flow is important for vascular health … Fidgeting isn’t a substitute for walking or more strenuous exercise, the researchers said, but is helpful in situations – such as an airline flight or working on a computer – that require sitting for several hours.

Diverse community is #1

Money magazine examined home prices, property taxes, unemployment rates and commute times and placed Columbia, Maryland, in the top position in its annual Best Places to Live rankings … Columbia is described as a planned community that prizes economic and social diversity … The rest of the top five are Eden Prairie, Minnesota; Plano, Texas; West Des Moines, Iowa; and Parsippany, New Jersey … Populations of those cities range from around 53,000 to around 278,000 … Among bigger cities, the best places are Boston, Massachusetts, followed by Raleigh, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Arlington, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado … Those populations range from about 382,000 to about 823,000.

Pastors describe financial challenges

The Everence Pastoral Financial Assistance Program is helping Mennonite Church USA and Conservative Mennonite Conference pastors with grants and educational events … Highlighting the need for this type of program, a survey released by the National Association of Evangelicals showed even higher levels of financial stress than we found in our 2015 study of MCUSA and CMC pastors … Of the 4,000+ pastors surveyed, 90 percent said they feel financial stress and 76 percent know other pastors who left the ministry for financial reasons ... Sixty percent don’t have health insurance or retirement funds from their churches, and 31 percent work a second job. Contact your Everence Church Relations Representative for information about the program.

Ashes to ashes

For Catholics, cremation is OK, but the ashes of loved ones should be preserved in cemeteries or other sacred places, according to instructions the Vatican issued in late October … The Roman Catholic Church banned cremation for hundreds of years, but started allowing the practice in 1963 … The Vatican’s clarifications say cremated remains should not be kept in homes or scattered outdoors … The cremation rate in the U.S. increased from 26 percent to 49 percent in the last 15 years and in Canada, it rose from 47 percent to 69 percent, according to the Cremation Association of North America.

Long time between breaths

How long can you hold your breath? … Aleix Segura Vendrell of Spain, a diver, set a world record in February 2016 when he held his breath underwater for 24 minutes, 3 seconds … His feat was oxygen-assisted – he breathed pure oxygen before his attempt … But smithsonian.com notes that some divers hold their breath for several minutes underwater, even without breathing pure oxygen first … How long you can hold your breath depends on factors including body type and gender … Women tend to have lung volumes around 10 percent less than men because their rib cages are usually smaller.

 

January/February 2017 issue

 
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