Ever feel like this at Christmas?

The media reports that almost 7 out of 10 people would like to stop giving Christmas  gifts. A large number say they would be interested in spending more time with family if there was no expectation of gifts.

CHRISTMAS IS A HUGE MONEYMAKER
Retailers  conduct more than 50% of their business at this time of year. Sales get more competitive and the merchandise even more tacky in the fourth quarter, as retailers seek to put their businesses in the black.

The excitement of Christmas is just one of the countless ways ‘Madison Avenue mentality‘ is used by businesses to manipulate us into spending our hard-earned money with them.

Some atheists and a number of Jews have a Christmas tree, according to a 2013 Pew survey.

A 2016 ING study found that 70% of Americans feel that Christmas is too focused on spending.

The non-stop shopping frenzy begins earlier every year, with each progressing year becoming more intense and overwhelming.

Tearing out early on Thanksgiving afternoon to join the mad stampede at crowded ‘churches-of-commerce’ (malls), to snatch the latest advertised sale deal and overspend on a silk blouse to mend a rift, taking time away from our families, and wasting money to lavish people with gifts that we can’t afford….all because a gift is expected.

The season is an excuse for  excesses: endless commercials, hearing dogs barking Jingle Bells, stressing over getting up all our gaudy decorations to spill off of the roof  into the yard,  days spent  in the kitchen cooking, and baking, which will be quickly devoured, once healthy trees chopped down and hauled into living rooms to be ‘oohed and aahed’ over for a few days until  are dragged to the curb for trash pickup, “ugly” sweaters, wreaths on the front of SUVs, felt antlers on pets; long lines at the post office, overindulging in fattening goodies shared by friends and families and wearing ourselves to a frazzle.

WHAT OFTEN HAPPENS TO THOSE GIFTS WE BOUGHT
While we don’t really have the time to shop we shop at every opportunity  in order to find the perfect gift, to exchange with people who rip into our carefully wrapped gifts and let us know with a look of distaste  that it isn’t what they wanted or it wasn’t enough. Tossed aside, tomorrow it will be shoved into an already cluttered closet to be forgotten, until  spring where it will be touting a bright orange $.50 garage sale sticker.

22% of Americans buy Christmas gifts on credit.

Americans waste $9.5 billion, or $71 per person, on unwanted gifts each year, according to a study from Finder.com.

We all have so much stuff that we don’t treasure everything.

 

MORE WASTE AT CHRISTMAS….
Tons of torn wrapping paper, boxes and bows  are pitched,  millions of trees are discarded and an enormous amount of electricity is used to show off those colorful displays of snowmen ice skating around the yard while Alvin and the Chipmunks sing and a smiling Santa waves while his entire herd of reindeer circle him around the roof.

Those who can’t buy as much for their loved ones are often embarrassed and ashamed. Sadness and depression often follows.

WHY WE BUY INTO THE BELIEF THAT WE MUST EXCHANGE GIFTS

  • Society is a strong force in our lives. Many of us, desperate to fit in,  are concerned what others will think of us if we reject commercial madness of Wall Street.
  • Psychotherapists have said that some of us are just not skilled at sharing our love and gratitude with words.

Feeling pressured, we lose the joy of gifting with  the obligatory gift-giving for our co-workers, hair stylist, mailman, child’s teacher, bus driver, neighbors,  etc.

Many of us struggle with how to address this ever growing mess of obligatory giving, mismatched expectations and the associated stress and depression.

Our giving spirit has been lost amidst the insanity of the excess and expectation of material trappings, yet we have been afraid to voice  that we are  tired of all the stressful Christmas gifting ritual,  for fear we will be called un-Christian.

Those who no longer participate in ‘obligatory gift giving’ say they have heard from many other family and friends who appreciate their bravery in speaking up. Now, with the complete absence of frenzy and pressure, there is the blessed gift of peace and quiet to just enjoy others and money is freed up for causes they believe in. There is time to count our blessings, show compassion, appreciate the people around us and express gratitude, thanking God for family, friends and health.

Although spending time and money to help those in need is not Wall Street’s idea of Christmas, giving voluntarily throughout the year to the those disenfranchised by the world can bring renewed hope to those who so desperately need it. The joy we receive by connecting with others bestows upon us a richer, deeper meaning of the season, as we get back much more than we give.

Articles written at Christmas about what people “should” be doing with their holiday shames people. On a  misdirected burst of generosity, suddenly 100 people show up Christmas Eve,  demanding to “help” by volunteering their time. Instead, why not reach out  to help others throughout the year.

We celebrate Christ by showing compassion to the poor— strangers, friends and families. Matthew 25:37-40

Today with so much excess in America, I pray to reach people honestly in need to help.
May God grant me eyes to  observe the world around me daily to see a  true need and a heart to help.

When we quietly help  others, without telling anyone (Matthew 6:2 ), there is no hegemony, no competition to outdo one another, no desire to show off, and no envy from others.

The best gift for children, which is superior to ‘stuff’ any day, is the experience of sharing with those in greater need.  Kids learn and appreciate the opportunity to give others joy and hope by compassion.

We can either give socks to someone who has everything, or to someone for whom it would mean the world: preschool children from low-income families, wearing worn-out shoes in the snow and the same dirty clothes for several days or a homeless teen who would be thrilled with a new package of underwear.

Giving of our time, instead can mean the world to someone, just by knowing that someone cares

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GIFTS 

“But, my church teaches that we give (and get) gifts to remember God’s gift to us, the birth of Jesus….” 

Do we really believe that the out of control commercialization of the Christmas season, which bears no resemblance to Christ, who was not even born on December 25th is to celebrate the birth of Jesus?

Although God could have chosen any means of presentation for the radical birth of Christ His Son, the simplicity and lowliness of a manger was so as not to distract from God’s GIFT to us.

Those of us who fill our lives with objects that bring empty promises of joy and fulfillment are the needy. If we choose to receive this wonderful present, Christ’s presence can bring us freedom, humility, and joy, to which nothing else can compare.

The choice is ours.

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Helping others even when money is tight

Free gifts for Christmas

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Posted in Christmas, Inspiration, Just wondering, Saving Money, Senior Citizens, You can make a difference | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NEVER depend on your home security alarm or camera to save you!

Break-ins  occur in even the safest neighborhoods. Don’t think your security system or a camera is going to save you.

When your alarm alerts your security company, if the alarm company determines there is a need, they will then contact the police. However, with only  six policeman to work the whole area they may be on another call a few miles away and may not get there after the intruder has done their damage and left.

 Eliminating temptation helps keep your home more safe and secure.

While a well-lit neighborhood  helps deter crooks, a dark house welcomes undesirable visitors.   Burglars often case an entire street or neighborhood looking  for the easiest target, the darkest and most vulnerable home on the street.  Your porch light is NOT enough!

Does your family’s home have a dark area on any side that could allow  an intruder to  sneak up on your home? When it comes to your family’s safety never be cheap and expect your neighbors light to protect you.

Remember that  a bright house welcomes friendly guests,  while a dark house invites undesirable visitors.

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‘Light up the darkness’ around your house. Use a combination of motion sensor, photo – electric, low – voltage and decorative landscape lighting for greatest protection.

  • ___ Low-voltage outdoor lighting for your home’s exterior (entryways, ground level windows, garages and to the landscaping) to illuminate areas around your home.
  • ___ Motion sensor lighting placed around each side of your home, especially around dark corners of your home and near all exterior areas of your home that could be used as a point of entry. They will activate when someone walks up, giving the appearance that someone  has spotted them and flipped on a light.    Lighting up your backyard with motion lights may be enough to scare away intruders.
  • ___ Replace burned-out lightbulbs and place inexpensive solar powered landscape lights around your home.
  • ___ Turn on your porch light at dusk or purchase one that comes on at dusk and off at sunrise.  Or add motion based lights   (Paying a bit more per month in electricity to protect your family is a no-brainer!) Note: NEVER leave your porch light burning when you are away from your home for a few days. Doing so alerts burglars that you aren’t home. Instead invest in a timer for your front porch!
  • ____  A dark street can lead to crime on that street, which then shows up on the crime reports, which can affect (lower) the property value of all the homes in the area. Crime can  quickly spread to other areas of your neighborhood. Contact PSO immediately if it is dark in any area.
  • ___  Talk to your neighborhood association about increased lighting on your street. HOA dues are to help keep neighborhoods safe.
  • ___ Large, reflective numbers on your house, curb and mailbox makes it easier for police to find your home in the event of an emergency. Burglars prefer dark houses difficult to identify by address as it can buy them crucial spare moments in the event they’re caught in the act.

LIGHTS WITH TIMERS

If you leave or get home after dark, create the illusion that you’re at home by using timers to turn lights on and off.  You want to make it  impossible for an intruder to observe your movements and know when your home is likely to be empty.

    • ___Don’t come home to a dark house. Install a photo – sensitive lighting fixture at the front door and leave several lights on timers inside
    • ___ Set your porch and other exterior lights, especially around entrances on a timer  when you leave for work or appointments or go on vacation, set to light up every evening. Turn certain lights on and off remotely via your phone.
    • ___ For the inside of your home, select a few rooms to put light timers near your windows—but close your curtains so intruders can’t see them.  Light-timers   are inexpensive and can be found almost everywhere. They should be used on a daily basis, not just when you’re away. Find the best bulbs for outdoor uses.
    • ___ Set timers to turn on a TV, radio, and lights, to fool intruders into thinking your home is occupied.

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There are many gadgets available, to help give the appearance that “someone is home”:

  • ___ Fake TV  simulates the flickering lights of a television, and from outside, it appears that someone is watching TV. On Amazon
  • ___ Leave a radio on and turn down your doorbell. A battery-operated radio is a practical, cheap way to make it sound like someone is around. And since many burglars ring the doorbell or knock to see if anyone’s home turning down the sound of the doorbell combined with a loud radio will make thieves unsure if the house is empty or if the resident simply doesn’t hear the door.
  • ___ Barking dog alarm


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~      HOW MANY OF THE FOLLOWING ARE YOU ALREADY DOING TO HELP KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE?

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Crime tends to be lower in tight-knit communities because neighbors offer an extra set of eyes and are more likely to look out for each other.

___ Meet your neighbors.  Your neighbors can be one of your best assets in home crime prevention. If you know your neighbors and are aware of your surroundings, you can more easily spot something that’s just not right, like a  window that is broken or a suspicious car.  If neighbors have a different work or school schedule from yours, they might be around during the day when you’re away and can alert you or call 911 regarding any suspicious activity they see.    IFTTT, a free app allows you to automate your home to alert your neighbors to check on your place. (Example: you are using SmartThings door and window sensors and are on vacation. You can set up an IF recipe that says, “If front door is opened, post to Facebook”.)  

___ Your street address number needs to be visible from the street during the day and at night. In an emergency, you want emergency responders to be able to find you quickly. The faster they find your house, the faster you get help and in an emergency every second counts.  (If you have house numbers over your garage, but no light on them at all times to help emergency responders to see quickly, you need reflective numbers at the curb and/or on your front porch, where the porch light is!)

___ Be attentive to observe your surroundings and to new people walking or driving through the area.  Take notice of any suspicious persons,  loitering, walking or vehicles driving through the area or any possible drug activities.  (You may want to use that Smartphone if possible to discreetly take pictures of car tags or other concerns.)

___  Diligent about picking up trash that ends up on your street? Hypodermic needles are being found in several areas….yes, right on the streets! Just leaving them there endangers our kids and pets. Working with  neighbors to clean up the neighborhood can be an excellent chance to  bond with your neighbors as you get to know them better.

___ Forming a neighborhood watch program, for your area, provides another  opportunity to get to know your neighbors better.

___ Being EXTREMELY careful using Craig’s List. Read this scary story

___ Graffiti Should Be Removed Immediately. Graffiti leads to the overall decline of a neighborhood and often often leads to violence and crime by giving the appearance of it being rundown. More, including how to report

___ Keep a detailed home inventory of all valuables  in your fire proof safe or in the cloud so that is safe and separated from your home. (Use your smartphone to record, if you need to.)  This will help police identify you as the owner should your property be stolen and later recovered.

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WHEN YOU COME HOME

___ If you come in the front door, when you come home, have your keys ready, go right in and lock the door behind you.

___If you go in through the garage and have an electric garage door opener, shut the door down, before getting out of your car.

___ Use the manual lock for the garage door, which is usually found on the drivers side of the garage, about three feet up from the bottom of the garage floor. It overrides anyone driving by and checking to see if they can open a garage door with their opener.

WHAT INTRUDERS LOOK FOR

___ Intruders look for flyers and ads piled up on a porch or driveway or stuck on the door, to know if someone is away. If you rarely go out your front door, instead driving in and out of  the garage, you might not see the papers stuck on your front door.

  •      ___ If you don’t read the Union Boundary paper that is thrown in your yard, simply call  918 254-1515 to ask Sharon that they not throw it at your home anymore. They are very nice about it. You can always read it online
  •      ___ If a business  leaves a flyer on your door, you should call and request that they no longer do so. (No Soliciting signs for the front door can be found at stores such as Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes.)

___ Garage sales -Potential intruders often use a sale as an opportunity to observe how easy it can be to come in through your  side or garage door and come in the back door leading into the house. Door jammers can help keep them out!   (Note: Instead of a garage sale, take your good stuff to Just Stuff Plus Consignment at 6349 S Memorial She is fair on the fee.)

 

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In the event of a home invasion,  you need to defend yourself:

___ A can of hornet spray by the front door and/or your bed will shoot up to 12 feet. It burns so aim for the intruders eyes. Some brands go even further!
___ Bear Spray  a non-lethal spray is proven to be highly successful at stopping aggressive behavior in bears. The spray uses a fine cloud of Capsicum derivatives to temporarily reduce a bear’s ability to breath, see, and smell. Watch a video in which three park employees share their story about a surprise encounter with a grizzly in Yellowstone.
___ Keep a baseball bat handy.
___ A Mag light can be used to temporarily blind an intruder. And they are heavy for swinging, but you have to be pretty close. (That is why the hornet spray is a good idea.)
___ Weapons – learn  how to use it  by practicing every few months.   Keep it in a secure place away from children.  Even, BB guns and pellet guns  should be treated with the respect of a weapon as there are almost 22,000 injuries each year.

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 ALERTING SOMEONE THAT YOU ARE IN DANGER
___ Car keys next to the bed allow you to depress the emergency button to start the car horn honking. Even in the garage it will alert neighbors.

___  Panic Button  IFTTT, a free app allows you to set up  a “DO button” as a panic button, giving you one touch action like call for help, post to social media, or whatever it takes to keep you safe.

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WINDOWS

An open exterior window is an invitation for burglars to easily enter your home. Protecting the perimeter of your home is a great step toward home security.

Thieves know how to spot weak window locks that would be easily forced open.    Make sure your window locks work well and update them, if needed.

  • ___ Shut your blinds and keep them shut when it is dark outside.  Many burglars take advantage of the night when they can see straight into your home.
  • ___ Aftermarket window locks are available that let you open the window a few inches while still keeping it secure.   If you like fresh air, shop for locks with a vent locking system.
  • ___ Install keyed sash locks on your windows to make them more secure.
  • ___ A window-break sensor alarm (also known as open/close sensors) will go off to alert you if someone tries to open a window in your home. They are inexpensive and you can install them yourself (Lowe’s & Home Depot).  Most systems are set up so that   if your door opens after midnight it will sound an alarm or if your door or window opens while you are away you are sent a text or email notification  allowing you to respond by turning on the lights remotely or accessing a video feed of the location.
  • ___ Burglars often break a small window in order to gain entry. Glass break sensors can be less expensive in a room with lots of windows.  While a  door/window sensor (as described above) sells for around $40  a glass break sensor can monitor the entire room and costs around $80. A glass break sensor monitors for the specific sound glass makes when it breaks and is a solid addition to any home security system.
  • ___ Reinforce windows by  installing safety glass or metal bars to make it impossible for intruders to squeeze through.  There are plenty of decorative options for metal grilles that can make the adjustment both practical and aesthetically-pleasing.
  • ___ Use curtains or blinds on garage windows so crooks can’t look in to see what valuables are there.
  • ___ Jalousie windows are almost impossible to secure without adding protective security grillwork. Police suggest this type of window should be replaced whenever possible.
  •  ___ Prevent horizontal sliding windows  from being forced open or from being lifted off the track secure with a door jamb, or use vertical bolts and a wooden dowel (*or an adjustable safety bar, a metal shower curtain rod or a piece of closet rod cut to fit) in the interior floor track.  Adjust track clearance so the windows can’t be removed from their frame. Intruders won’t be able to slide the window open, even if they get past the lock.

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DOORS

An open exterior door or window (one that is not properly secured)  is an open invitation for intruders to easily enter your home.  In at least one – half of all residential burglaries, thieves entered through unlocked doors or windows.  No Force burglaries means that someone left the door open! 

 NOTE: You don’t know who is on your porch behind that Halloween mask when you throw open the door, so it isn’t worth it to take a chance.

  • ___ NEVER open the door to uninvited or unwelcome visitors. (Put up a NO SOLICITING sign, so they do not ring the bell or leave flyers on your front door.)
  • ___Chain lock vs peephole. A chain lock  does not provide you with security, as an intruder can easy bust it off, once you open that door a crack.  A good quality peephole with a a wide-angle view is a safer option, allowing you the opportunity to see who is outside before opening the door. (Some cheap peepholes are so bad that the visitor can tell when you look out!)
  • ___ Smart doorbells and  ring.com   When someone rings your doorbell, you can visually confirm who is at the door from your smartphone. Some products feature two-way communication letting you answer the door from anywhere with your smartphone.  It is especially good for when you are not at home but want to appear that you are.  It connects to your Wi-Fi network and works with iOS and Android devices.
  • ___ Keep all doors and windows shut/closed and securely locked and use your alarm system all the time, whether you’re home or not and no matter how brief your trip next door, going to the store, or when doing yard work. Yes,  even if it’s pouring rain. Burglars don’t take days off due to weather!
  • ___ Keep fences, sheds, gates, and garage doors closed and locked. It’s worth investing in a quality padlock for each outside entrance. Gates, sheds, and garages can be susceptible to a quick grab and run. Consider adding an outdoor video camera to keep an eye on things.
  • ___ Double-check all doors and windows before you leave, after entering, and before bedtime.
  • ___ Double check all doors and windows to make sure they are locked after workers, such as a cleaning crew, leave your home. Many  burglars admit that being an ‘invited’ in to do work allowed them to leave a door or window unlocked for easy entry when they returned to steal.
  • ___ Prevent sliding glass patio doors from being forced open or from being lifted off the track secure with a door jamb, or use vertical bolts and a wooden dowel (or an adjustable safety bar, a metal shower curtain rod or a piece of closet rod cut to fit) in the interior floor track to secure a sliding glass door from sliding vertically.  Adjust track clearance so the doors can’t be removed from their frame. Intruders won’t be able to slide the  door open even if they get past the lock.   To secure sliding glass doors install auxiliary locks. Remember that metal locks can become corroded from weather and wear.  Add a jimmy plate to prevent a burglar from being able to lift the door off of its tracks.  Here is another idea
  • __  Front doors with side pane glass add an additional home security problem with the lack of privacy.   At night, you can see right through these windows and people can see you.   Privacy film added can distort the view from the outside to help  reduce the chances of an unwanted visitor knowing what valuables are inside and if anyone is home.
  • ___  An open door is an open invitation. A safety door like the Secure Elegance from Lowes  with KeepSafe Glass® can be beaten  with a baseball bat and it will hold. Be sure to have the door professionally installed.
  • ___ Garage doors are a common point of entry for a burglar. Yet, drive down almost any street and you will see a garage door that is open and the inner door is unlocked. Never leave your garage door open!  Simply keeping the door shut while mowing, playing outside, or even running in to grab a forgotten item can greatly improve your home’s security.
  • ___The side door attached to the garage  is often a route of entry, yet many people leave this door unlocked. Flimsy doors with a glass window in the top is one of the easiest to get into.   It doesn’t take that much time to lock and unlock the door, you could even add an automated lock that will unlock as you approach with your smartphone in pocket. A door jammer placed there at night, is a good idea.

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To help prevent criminals from easily kicking your doors open:

  • ___ Your front door, like the side door on the garage, should be solid hardwood or steel or metal clad, not a lightweight hollow core door which is easy-to-breach.
  • ___ A heavy-duty four-screw deadbolt strike plate (the piece of metal where the deadbolt latch goes into the door’s frame) can be purchased at a hardware store.
  • ___ A single cylinder deadbolt installed on all exterior doors  is recommended and that the  bolts have at least a 1” throw.
  • ___ Reinforce door frames with two and a half inch to three-inch wood screws to make sure the plate is strongly attached to the door frame. For around $100, you can get a doorway reinforcement kit such as the Door Devil, which fortifies your front door’s weak spots.
  • ___ Door jammers – slide the soft rubber part under the door handle and move with your foot until secure. Some people use these when staying in hotel rooms.
  • ___ Door braces like the OnGARD security door brace helps prevents burglaries and deadly home invasions. Withstands up to 1775 Lbs of violent force  when in the locked position, this  can help a door sustain several hundred pounds of blunt force. 

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Locks, jamb, and the hinges are the weakest point on a door. Don’t make it easy for a stranger to be able to walk into your home.

  • ___ Exterior doors need a grade 1 or grade 2 dead-bolt lock that penetrates the door frame, as well as a chain lock,  for added safety and security. These can be purchased at a big-box home store. The strike plate—the stationary piece that the bolt enters—must be heavy duty, made of solid metal or brass, with six three-inch-long screws that penetrate the door jamb and the door frame. Check out this door lock buying guide and EZ Armor Read about the $10 part that will make your door lock safer.
  • ___  install a double cylinder deadbolt lock, when glass is present within 40” of the inside latch. If small children or the elderly reside in the house, consider installing security film or decorative grillwork since double cylinder deadbolts can create a problem in case of fire
  • ___ Change the locks when moving into a new place, even if the previous owner gave you all the keys. There’s no way to know for sure if there were other copies given to their friends or handymen who did work there who might still have a key to your house.  Smart locks are a good option as you can give out temporary keys to workers and keep track of who is coming and who is going.
  • ___ A quality lockset sends a strong message to would-be intruders while adding beauty and value to your home.

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SECURITY SYSTEM:
Security system false alarms can bring on expensive fines not to mention annoy your neighbors who have heard it going off so often that they just ignore it when they hear it!  Make sure all family members know how to use the alarm.  Each family member should be aware of what can trip the alarm.    Have your system checked by the alarm company and consider upgrading your system.

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SECURITY CAMERAS can work with a home security system or they can stand alone.

  • ___ Security cameras allow homeowners to monitor activities outside of the home to see who is approaching from the driveway, without leaving the sofa.
  • ___ ring.com  lets you answer the door from anywhere with your smartphone. It connects to your Wi-Fi network and works with iOS and Android devices.
  • ___ Installing fake security cameras used to scare off potential burglars, but today criminals have become more bold.
  • ___ There are lots of free apps that can turn your old phones and tablets into security cameras. One favorite  is Camio.

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DECOY FOR THIEVES

Convicted burglars have confessed that they want to get in and out as soon as possible so they quickly grab the most valuable stuff they find and get out. They always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet. Instead of keeping your valuables in the usual hiding places,  get creative.

  • ___ Leave an old, worthless laptop by your front entrance so a burglar will spot it, grab it, and get out.
  • ___ Fill a box with some cash, costume jewelry, and maybe a few papers to shove in the sock drawer in the master bedroom. Chances are that a burglar will check there, grab the box, and go.

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WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO BE GONE FOR A DAY OR MORE

  • ___ Put a temporary stop on newspaper delivery or arrange for a trusted friend or neighbor to collect your mail, newspapers, and any delivered packages. Have someone check in on your home periodically to ensure no one has entered in your absence. They can help create a “lived-in” look, by using and setting out your trash ad recycle bins on trash day. However, remember trash cans left at the curb longer than trash day give the appearance that no one is home.
  • ___ Pay someone to cut your grass and keep the yard tidy.
  • ___ If you’re gone in the winter, ask your neighbor to create tire tracks in your driveway and leave footprints leading up to your front door, to create the illusion that someone is home.
  • ___ Never post about your upcoming trip or vacation photos on Facebook and Instagram until after the vacation is over.   The more people who know your house is vacant, the more you open yourself up to the possibility of a break-in.  Since your address and even a picture of your home are very easy to find online, you don’t want to tempt a potential burglar.  Don’t leave a message on your landline answering machine that you’re out of town.
  • ___ Leave some curtains and blinds open to give the illusion that someone is around. Thieves take note of a house that’s clearly been closed up.
  • ___ Disconnect the automatic opener and lock the garage door. Garage doors may seem impenetrable, but don’t depend on your automatic garage door for security.

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SHRUBS, TREES  Don’t give a burglar a place to hide.

  • ___ Hiding spots- Are  you  providing a nice hiding spot for a potential burglar to hide, with  shrubbery too tall, bushy, or not well spaced. Prune hedges, bushes and plants on your property and keep them trimmed.  Walk outside to see if any landscaping comes up to your windows. (Also, make sure fences or trees don’t hide your doors and windows from view.)
  • ___ Trees around two-story homes should be pruned.  A determined crook may scale a tree and break into an upstairs window if branches are long enough to give him access.
  • ___ Plant thorned plants near windows. A massive rose bush below a window might help to keep bad guys out. Barberry, sticky little plants, are pretty but you must be VERY careful when trimming..and they will need to be trimmed.

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SIGNS

  • ___ Burglars  don’t want to risk being mauled by a Doberman or Pit Bull. A simple “beware of dog” WARNING sign posted  in visible spots in your yard or on your fence at the front of the house or on a gate to the backyard and  a dog bowl by your side door,   could provide some deterrence.
  • ___ A fence with sharp pointed tops  and a gate with good locks can help keep unwanted visitors off your property.
  • ___   The threat of a security system may be enough to deter some, but not all*.  Security-company signs or window stickers posted near all entryways and all first floor windows. Be sure to use a legitimate sign, they won’t be fooled by a phony. (*However, the  best deterrent is a well lit home!)

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ACCESS an intruder may use that you may have never thought about:

  • ___ Window Air conditioning units– Unsecured window air conditioners could provide an easy entry point for a crook. Use an air conditioner bracket, sliding window lock, or corner braces.
  • ___ Doggie doors– Intruders coming into homes that way is on the rise. Do you really want that opening to be available to a crook?
  • ___ The door attached to the garage is one of the easiest targets and a likely route of entry.
  • ___ A ladder or tools left outside makes it easier for a criminal to get into your home. If you don’t want to provide burglars with tools they can use to break into your home be sure to put them away.

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IN THE YARD AND GARAGE

  • ___ Trash and recycle bins left out at the curb give the appearance of no one is home. ALWAYS move them from the curb, as soon as you can!  Fines for leaving your trash and recycle bins out.
  • ___ Thieves look for yards littered with toys as that signals to a that the house may be filled with equally interesting entertainment, like game consoles, tablets, or laptops.
  • ___ A ladder or toolbox left out even briefly for an afternoon can give an opportunistic thief help in gaining access to your house.  A burglar, perhaps posing as a handyman or contractor, could use a ladder left outside to gain access to a second-floor window or balcony.
  • ___Keep  cars in the garage, if at all possible. (Why use your garage as an expensive mini-storage for old junk while leaving an expensive vehicle in the driveway,  just asking for it to be broken into or stolen.) However, if you do leave your car in the driveway secure your car by always locking the doors and rolling up windows.  Cars are easy to break into so never leave the garage door opener in it or a spare key in the visor or anywhere else inside, even if the car is locked as that puts your home security at risk. Take cell phones, purses, GPS devices, and satellite radios inside.
  • ___Lock  outdoor and recreational equipment, such as grills, lawn mowers and bikes in the garage or in a storage shed with a good lock.

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KEYS

  • ___IF YOU WERE LOCKED OUT OF YOUR HOUSE, WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO GET IN? Everyone hides a house key so burglars know to look  under mats, statues, planters, inside the mailbox or in the gravel beneath a fake rock. Maybe you leave a window at the back of the house unlocked. Remember – if you can get in – so can a burglarInstead of hiding a spare key outside, leave it with a trusted neighbor, in case of emergencies, and make sure they have a good contact number where you can be reached while you’re away. Return the favor for your neighbor can make the neighborhood safer.
  • ___ Never leave car and house keys and remotes near the door or otherwise visible inside your house. Secure them inside a cabinet or a drawer to keep them hidden.
  • ___ Don’t label your personal keys. If your keys are labeled and get lost or stolen you could be in big trouble, especially if your wallet with your ID and address are with them.

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A HOME SAFE

___  Make it difficult for the burglar to find your valuables if he does get inside your home. Find a safe hiding place for your valuables. Don’t leave them on the dresser or in a dresser drawer. Get creative on where you hide things.

___ Secure valuables like birth certificates and passports in a fireproof home safe or lockbox, an off-premises safe-deposit box, or stash  jewelry and cash in unorthodox places. If  the lockbox is small,  many burglars will simply grab it and take it with them. Your safe bolted to the floor in a closet can help to keep a burglar from grabbing it and taking it even if they don’t know the contents.     Give your pass code or combination only to a trusted loved one in case of emergency. Don’t leave it posted anywhere in your house easily accessible to an intruder.

___  Designate one closet as a “safe” room and fit it with a solid core or metal door with hinges on the inside and a single cylinder deadbolt lock

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MAIL

___ Mailboxes hanging open make houses look vacant.  Lori Fullbright on keeping your mail safe.

___ Digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon! Informed Delivery allows you to view greyscale images of the exterior, address side of letter-sized mailpieces and track packages in one convenient location.  (SIGN UP FOR FREE!)

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REMOVE INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR FAMILY FROM THE INTERNET

Google Maps-

Your family’s safety could  at risk with Google Maps putting pictures of your home on the World Wide Web giving strangers a great deal of details of your home and private life !

Different ways a criminal could take advantage of information gleaned from pictures on Google Maps for nefarious ends:

  • See the inside of your garage and its contents, if you have left the garage door open the day the Google car drives down your street.
  • See what make, model, and color of vehicle you drive with a picture of your cars and the  license plates numbers. Google claims it blurs out license plates and individuals before it posts pictures to street view, although that doesn’t always happen.
  • Locate entrances to buildings
  • Determine locations of your security cameras, gates, etc
  • Find good hiding places such as in shrubs and other areas
  • Find holes or weak spots in perimeter fences
  • Locate utility boxes (power, water, gas, etc)
  • See if locks, guards, dogs, etc, are normally present
  • Measure distances between objects…to determine how quickly it would take to run or drive from one point to another.

Several sites on how to remove your home. This one shows  how to remove it from Google, Bing and Yahoo

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___ YOUR VOTERS INFO Look for your name on Oklavoters.com  (Where it shows ‘Search by Name’, choose the first letter of your last name.) Once you find your name,  click on details and you will see even your birthdate.

How to remove personal information from oklavoters.com

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___ Nextdoor is touted as a way to stay in touch with your neighbors, but how safe is it? According to Nextdoor’s privacy statement:

  • WHEN A NEIGHBOR INVITES YOU TO JOIN NEXTDOOR your residential or postal address and/or email address is provided by the person who invited you to NextdoorAnd that is when Nextdoor begins collecting information on you from sources, such as  census data, street addresses, property lot maps, and postal address change information. NextDoor uses that information to show where you are on the map, to tag your posts, photos and events by location.
  • WHEN YOU SIGN UP – you provide your personal information such as your name, profile photo, email address, and similar information when registering for Nextdoor. Then when you create your personal profile, you submit information such as your phone number, photo, occupation, family members, biography and personal interests.  (Your name, photo and the name of your street will be visible to neighbors in your neighborhood.) If you use Facebook to register for or log in to Nextdoor (or later connect your accounts)  your email address and information about you and your Facebook friends, your interests, where you work, your skills, your children’s pictures, your pets and so much more, is shared with Nextdoor

 

Their site states that by visiting, joining, or using Nextdoor you:
  • understand and agree that your personal information may be used in the U.S. or the other countries which may be less protective of consumer privacy, data, and data access than your home country,  although Nextdoor cannot guarantee that your personal information won’t be intercepted or improperly accessed.
  • consent  to and authorize Nextdoor to use your personal information.  

WHY IS  NEXTDOOR COLLECTING ALL OF THIS INFORMATION ON YOU? They want your e-mail, but your e-mail is not used on Nextdoor to stay in touch with neighborsWho is behind Nextdoor and what are they doing with your personal information?

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SCRIPTURE TO GIVE PEACE

  • Our battle is not against flesh and blood….For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.    (KJV)  Ephesians 6:12.
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (ESV) Philippians 4:6-7
  • For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
  • ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; Luke 4:10
  •  For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” Matthew 18:20 NLT
  • If my people will humble themselves. 2 Chronicles 7:14
  • Psalm 46

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Crimestoppers will pay a cash reward up to $1,500 for information which results in the arrest of fugitives and/or individuals responsible for committing felony crimes. Call 918-596-2677 or click the button in the link, after it opens.  All tipsters remain anonymous.

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There is a reason that there are city codes (with fines) that limit the time you can park on the street, unload your RV or boat in your driveway, leave a non-running car in your drive, leave your trash cans out, etc.

Tulsa City Codes are to preserve property values & to guard the health of residents & the safety of residential property.

A  Homeowners Association (HOA) is formed to help keep residents safe by enforcing restrictions upon all lots. The HOA should have a committee that makes sure codes are followed. Every resident should receive a copy of the city residential codes and the phone number to report violations to help keep your area safe.

Make sure you aren’t in violation and end up with a fine. Check out violations to see the criminal penalty for failure to abate the problem

Don’t let things get out of control, by expecting someone else to keep your family safe! It is up to each of us, to take action immediately. Be PROactive, not REactive when we see something that violates any city code or our HOA covenant. 

Hold every resident, whether owner or renter, accountable in order to stop crime before it starts by reporting problems!   The smallest details can tip and even reverse the outcome. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

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MOST IMPORTANTLY REMEMBER:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12
    “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh; for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.”(II Corinthians 10: 3-4)

The Lord has given us a powerful weapon for spiritual warfare.

“Behold, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy and to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and nothing shall injure you.” Luke 10:19

Anointing oil is often used when praying for the Lord’s blessing and protection over a new home or one that has faced some form of spiritual threat. The oil, symbolic of our faith in God and the sacrifice that Jesus made to cleanse, doesn’t have any power in and of itself is.  The power comes from our faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to cast out demons.

See also:

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AMAZON’S DIRTY LITTLE SECRET

Amazon and E-bay are NOT always the cheapest places to buy!

Their prices aren’t that low according to Clark Howard who uses wish.com , geek.wish. com,  and 6pm.com which helped him buy $90 sneakers for $20. 

 

BEWARE OF “RETAIL ARBITRAGE”: People buy up hot products at low prices and then resell them higher on Amazon or Ebay. Avoid overpaying by googling the product name along with the phrase “best price”.

NOW THAT YOU KNOW THAT AMAZON’S PRICES AREN’T SO LOW, HERE IS HOW TO LOOK FOR DEALS

  • Amazon Deals 
  • Goldbox   Deal of the Day, Lightning Deals & limited-time sales.
  • Amazon’s prices change daily (sometimes hourly), so scan camelcamelcamel.com for the cost history of any item on Amazon. Amazon Outlet is perhaps the web’s biggest warehouse sale, where watches, toys and other items are typically 40 to 80 percent off.
  • Daily rollbacks on household and grocery items. Under the Today’s Deals tab, click Coupons on the left sidebar under the section Deal Type.  You might find $1 off a Crest or 25% off cereal.
  • To find the best discounts simply  add &pct-off=percent to the end of any Amazon URL (replacing percent with the exact discount you want. For example adding &pct-off=50-70 to the url  it will show only the products that are 50-70% off!)   
  • COUPONS: couponcabin.com    retailmenot.com

LOOPHOLES AND HACKS

AMAZON PRIME

Amazon Prime at $99 a year can pay off : Beyond rapid free shipping on many items, there are low-priced grocery and household products, free music, e-books and video streaming, 30-minute early access to Amazon Lightning Deals and unlimited photo storage on Amazon Drive. To avoid the fee: Credit card companies may offer Prime as a free perk for new members.

 

FREE SHIPPING WITHOUT BEING AN AMAZON PRIME MEMBER

Read how  here:

MAKING MONEY WITH AMAZON

DON’T GET SCAMMED

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A GIFT OF SERVICE FROM THE HEART

Giving of oneself often costs nothing more than time, yet can mean the world to someone,  just knowing that someone cares. 

Presence over presents: 

  • sit with someone at the hospital to give a family member a break
  • minister to others who are overstressed and searching.
  • reaching out to an elderly widower on her 4th birthday Norah changed his life           See  Norah and Mr. Dan’s Facebook page
  • let’s remember Valentine’s Day, when the widowed are no longer anyone’s sweetheart and, thus, are now left out of the celebrations. (Listen here around the middle where they start talking about the Veterans who are widowed!  And be sure to look at this)

Matthew 25: 37-40   ….can bring us joy, humility, and freedom.

 

See also:

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Maybe Dad Was Wrong……

Many of us were taught as a young child that boys don’t cry and as men we often bury our feelings in an attempt to conform to social pressure. However, we now know that the benefits associated with crying include healing and warding off heart disease and reducing pain.

  • Crying releases stress. According to Dr. Stephen Sinatra, a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist who has treated and  revitalized patients with even the most advanced forms of cardiovascular disease there’s nothing like a good cry when it comes to healing and warding heart disease risk factors. Crying frees the heart  of muscular tension and rigidity,  while enhancing oxygen delivery. The ability to feel emotions deeply, to cry during times of intense sadness and heartbreak, are essential in the prevention of heart disease risk factors. It is important to not allow your stress or emotions to remain bottled up inside you.  
  • Weight loss from crying? Crying releases toxins that assist your body in ridding itself of chemicals that raise cortisol levels. Controlling cortisol helps you cope with stress. (Cortisol is the hormone that puts fat around your belly, so controlling cortisol could contribute to weight loss.) 
  • Pain tolerance Our emotional pain tolerance increases after we have cried because tears from emotional crying contain “leucine-enkephalin,” an endorphin which improves mood and reduces pain.  Whenever you cry your mental health and your physical body receive the occasional vulnerable state (and euphoria) that emotional crying provides.The feeling of relief we experience after crying allowing us to settle down almost instantly  comes from the  “feel-good” hormones and neurotransmitters that are released. It feels good  to let those tears out and then blow your nose.
  • Tears are antibacterial. An article published by Medical Daily found that tears (which contain lysozyme) can kill up to 95 percent of bacteria in under 10 minutes!
  • Crying improves communication. Babies cry to let us know about their discomfort.  Adults, seeing another person’s tears quickly sense the extreme level of anger, frustration or sadness that words fail to convey.

While some prefer to cry alone in the shower, crying is a sign of a kind-hearted sensitive man; not a sign of weakness like you might have been taught as a child.   Jesus wept. John 11:35

Like crying, laughing  be a tremendous remedy for the heart as laughter helps us breathe deeply and releases  tension in our chests. If we laugh hard enough, we may even cry.

In order to restore balance to both your body and mind, it is important that we give ourselves permission to cry and embrace the lacrimation (flow of tears).

  Read more on this subject from  Suzy Cohen “America’s Most Trusted Pharmacist

 

 

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Prescription Discounts (Tulsa, OK Area)

  • Compare Prescription Prices for your area & Get Coupons: werx.org
  • CVS and Target offer coupons frequently for gift cards if you purchase a new or transferred prescription through them. Watch the weekly ads for those and also CVS.com.
  • Walmart has some for $4. *
  • Reasors in Tulsa free prescription antibiotic and vitamins.
  • K-Mart sales ~  Gold K prescription discounts are available up to 20% off for those age 50+.
  • Genscripts in TulsaA reader just advised us that  “Walmart & GenScripts have lists of prescriptions that are totally free. Ask your doctor to look to see if  there is a similar medication on those lists to the one(s) he is prescribing.   I carry Insurance in case we need an expensive cancer or heart drug or something like that in the future, but for now, we spend about $25 per month each. You can get the list from GenScripts.” Genscripts is located on the north side of 41st St and Hudson Ave, facing Hudson.  Hudson Ave. is at the stop light at 41st St. and Hudson right across from Pet Smart.
  • Costco no membership is needed to fill a prescription!! Costco’s prescription list   Savings are estimated up to 70% off and calculated at the time of sale according to this page of Costco’s site.    6 things you can do at Costco without a-membership


OTHER WAYS TO SAVE

  • Ask your doctor for samples.
  • Ask your pharmacist if there are any discounts.
  • Google the name of the drug to find the manufacturer of the drug you were prescribed, to see if you the manufacturer can help with a discount.
  • 5 Hacks for Lowering Your Prescription Drug Costs

IMPORTANT TO YOUR HEALTH AND THE HEALTH OF OTHERS:

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Simple Way Successful People Accomplish More in a Day

Charles M. Schwab, one of the richest men in the world at the time, was president of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, the largest shipbuilder and the second-largest steel producer in America. He was also business manager for Andrew Carnegie, the the father of the steel Industry in the United States.

Constantly seeking an edge over the competition, in 1918, Schwab asked Ivy Lee, who had worked for the great industrialist John D. Rockefeller,  what the cost would be for him to  increase the efficiency of his team at Bethlehem Steel.

Lee replied, “Nothing, unless it works. After three months, send me a check for whatever you feel it’s worth to you.”

Spending 15 minutes with each of Schwab’s executives Lee explained the simple method for achieving peak productivity that is said to have also been used by J.P. Morgan, who died in 1913:

1.) At the end of each  day, write down the  most important things you need to accomplish tomorrow, including all your appointments and work items, then prioritize those  tasks in order of their true importance.
2.) In the morning, concentrate only on the first task until it is finished. Then go to the next one on  the list and work it until it is finished. Work you way down the list in the same fashion. Move any unfinished items to a new list for the following day.

After less than three months, Schwab was so pleased with how much more that he and his executive team were able to achieve in a day that he wrote Lee a check for $25,000, the equivalent of $431,614.96 in 2016.

Many successful and world-class experts use this method for the simple reason that mastery requires focus and consistency.  Fewer priorities leads to better focus leading to better outcome. Trimming away everything that isn’t absolutely necessary eliminates feeling overwhelmed and disorganized when constantly trying to divide your time several different ways.

While we have been repeatedly told that multi-tasking is good, according to neuroscientist Earl Miller the exact opposite is true.   Miller, professor of neuroscience at MIT,  warns that the human brain simply can’t fully focus on more than one thing at a time. While we may switch back and forth quickly between tasks that isn’t multitasking.

Doing the most important things first, each day is the way to be successful.

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IDEAS WORTH SHARING

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