Reflections & Resolutions 2014/2015

I'm doing my annual reflections & resolutions. Join me!!

Post here as a comment!

Talk about them over dinner with your friends, family or small group!

Need some ideas? See what I've written in the past by scrolling through this blog. 

In 2016

I learned to…
I grew most in…
Another way I saw myself growing was…
One of my best adventures was…
I saw/knew God was doing something when…
A real gift from God was…
Something I really enjoyed doing more of was…
One of the happiest memories of 2016 I’d like to freeze in my mind…
I was really brave when…
A Scripture passage that meant a lot to me was…

A memorable Song, Movie, Book was... I’m still trying to learn what God wants to teach me through this hard experience…
The best word of advice or encouragement I can remember is…
One thing I’m looking forward to in 2017 is…

"But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey your commands. 
They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. 
They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. 
But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. 
Therefore you did not desert them,.." 
Also from the Old Testament Nehemiah 9:16-17

I use post it notes to brainstorm the resolutions. It is my way of saying, "they're just ideas, so if you don't do them, you don't have to feel guilty about it." When we do this in a group, after sharing some of the reflections above, we take a break to individually do the brainstorming, then come back together to share a few. It's fun because we find that some of us have the same goal, and realize that we can do it together. I have 6 categories for brainstorming resolutions:

  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Service
  • Important Relationships
  • Professional/Intellectual
  • Adventure/Risk
May you have a wonderful new year, blessed by God the Father, Jesus the Christ the one who "became flesh and dwelt among us" and the indwelling Holy Spirit. GOD. A Trinity who leads and guides and loves you and me, if we just stop arguing with him and let him be God!

In this new year, join us in praying for wisdom in leading & serving both in and outside our family.
Thank God with us for his hand in building CRM in Singapore and our many opportunities to invest our lives in others.
More next month on that!

Praying you'll know God's goodness, blessing and joy in 2017!
The Creasmans

"Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, 
to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, 
whether or not you would keep his commands."
from the 5th book of the Bible, the Old Testament which is Ancient Jewish History, 

Deuteronomy 8:2

Giving to the Creasmans with CRM
Donation questions? 1 (800) 777-6658
Your tax-deductible checks should be made out to CRM.
"Creasman-acct 5651." CRM will mail you a receipt.
CRM- 1240 N. Lakeview, Suite 120, Anaheim, CA 92807-1831

Tragedy for Whittier Family in 2016. GoFundMe for Emily and John Ramirez

Link to GoFundMe  (you can't use the one on the photo!)

FIGHT ON, Kathy!
That has been her slogan. Our slogan with her: 
FIGHT ON, Kathy!

But how... now?

On Sunday, two days after Kathy lost this fight, her daughter Emily turned sixteen. 

John, Kathy’s son turned fourteen the month before. How can you celebrate a birthday while watching your mom struggle to breathe? 

Now we are all struggling to breathe.

In her fight against cancer, Kathy Ramirez was fierce. This was not her first health battle. And this was the second war she’d fought against metastic breast cancer. This second time around, it seemed to have attacked her everywhere. It had gone on for __ months. She was willing herself to stay alive for her kids. 

And yet, on December 19th, early in the morning, she could no longer fight on. Her mortal body lost the fight in the hallway; as she was making her way out of the bedroom to join her her kids. Her twin sister Karin was staying over for care, and with the kids, they were out in the living room. Kathy was forty-eight when her body proved weaker than her will. 

Many women fight this awful disease with family by their side, and this had been Kathy's story. 

Her husband David was good natured, loving, generous and kind. He was a master craftsman, woodworker and carpenter. In the economic recession his career took a downturn with the economy. For a very long time there was little work for this hardworking family man. They eventually gave up the mortgage payments on their Whittier house and walked away from it. To save money, they moved in with with Kathy’s parents 40 mintues away. Everyday, to keep some stability in the midst of loss, someone from family would drive the kids to their school back near their old home. They all FOUGHT ON. They worked toward getting back on their feet. 

David and Kathy refused to attend their own pity parties and act like victims. They took deep breaths, worked hard, raised their kids, enjoyed their friends. In 2014, the family rented a house back in Whittier. The kids could live nearer their school and friends again. They were putting their lives back together, and then Kathy’s cancer returned.
As if breast cancer isn't terrible enough, something unbelievable happened. 

It was Memorial Weekend. The doctors had ordered Kathy to take a short break from chemotherapy treatments. She had congestive heart failure and was on oxygen. Kathy was resting to gain enough strength for more treatments. They were all four at home on Sunday night when David died of unexpected aortic aneurysm.

No one could believe it. It was surreal. The focus had been Kathy’s battle, and then in a few moments, David was gone.

Two parents in one year.

One family member wrote: “Every step has left its scar and another layer to our sorrow. The children will go on, just as we all will. Yet, life for them will be different and difficult on every level. Their family will continue to pour into, pray with, and protect them just as they always have. But the life long impact and burdens they will bear are immeasurable.”

This beautiful extended family has experienced other hardships we won’t explain here. We know this family is capable, responsible, generous and hardworking. Their hardships have been going on since before the children took their first breaths!  
As Karin and her family now take over as guardians for Emily and John, we want to see them thrive after this loss. We want to prove to Emily and John that there is hope for their future in the midst of their tragedy. We want them all to breath easier under the weight of this grief and responsibility. The community support along the way has been a tribute to what kind of people Kathy and David are. Were.   

It’s time to ask a broader circle to FIGHT ON with us, for them. 

As we grieve that she is gone, we know we can still FIGHT ON for her! With this GoFundMe campaign, we are championing for her children and their future. 

GoFundMe community: You can help us raise MORE than the stated goal above! If we raise enough money, the Trust can generate interest income to take care of Emily and John. Imagine it being enough for the family's ongoing support! 

Let’s put a TWELVE in front of that figure.

Let's make it $1,2 ... 75,000!

In hundreds of gifts large or small, we can build a financial tribute to the FIGHT ON legacy of David & Kathy Ramirez. Theirs is a legacy of faith, good character, perseverance and determination. You can breath in them a legacy of hope!
We are thankful we live in a world where strangers are generous. We invite you to FIGHT ON with us!

The “Ramirez Family Trust Fund” has been established under legal advice by Michael Conner and Karin Mitchell. They are Kathy's brother and sister; family who are in succession to raise the children. It is for Emily and John Ramirez, for their future care and education. 

This GoFundMe campaign raised over $8,000 in 8 months since David’s death. In the days since Kathy joined him in heaven it has grown to over $11,000. There is also a PayPal method for giving directly to her bank account. PayPal monies are helping to cover immediate expenses in the memorial and transition. 

Read more about the story and the amazing people who've been walking this journey with them: 

If you know them, tell your Ramirez stories in the comments below...


A Season for feeling Charitable...Here's some education on how to best help

I've recently re-read a 12 page synopsis of the book, When Helping Hurts You can download it from this link to dropbox. 

As Americans, generosity has been a deeply seeded part of our worldview and giving to charity is a regular practice. 

Many of us do not have a criteria for how to sort out who to give to, and I've found this synopsis and article below a good place to start in learning about helping "the needy." Follow the links to read for yourself!

"How to Help Those in Need (Without Treating Them Like Beggars)"

Published by Christianity Today, November 2015

Donation questions (in USA) 1(800) 777-6658 ext 122
You may sign up for  EFT, or designate on a check: "preferenced for Creasman-acct 5651”


TY's in Town

Best days are spent reunited with good ol' friends from exotic places.


Mexican Cruise Limericks

The day after Thanksgiving we enjoyed a week's cruise down the Mexican Riviera.
Every night at dinner I shared an original limerick that encapsulated our day.
Weird. I know. My friends humored me.

Day 1
We survived our Thanksgivings just fine,
Boarded Ruby Princess in time.
We've checked out the buffet,
Toured Lotus Spa where Matt stays.
And enjoyed Boticelli's to dine.

Day 2
While I have no report before noon
And dinner came way way too soon
It's our first formal night
Cigars and spas - ah, just right
Then the magic production "To Do."

Day 3
We started our day in Carribe.
We're so getting the hang of of this scene.
Mojitos by the pool.
All the afternoon through.
Fabi's "happiest day ever been!"

Day 4
When we docked in our very first Puerto,
To the playa we went w Rodrigo.
Six beach chairs in the shade.
Cervesa orders were made.
What a glorious beach: Sayulito

Day 5
Mazatlan is a tough word to rhyme .
Disembarking a waste of our time.
Creasmans stayed here all day.
Explored, Napped, read and played.
The best part: evening deck views with wine.

Day 6
Up early we tendered to Cabo,
The southernmost part of Mexi-co.
Lovers beach so ideal,
With the surf, sun ...and seals!
Now we've cleaned up for dinner and more shows.

Day 7
A day on the sea is a treat,
If the swells are not reaching 8 feet.
Fabi seasick & queasy.
Skipping meals was quite easy.
'Twas ok if we stayed off our feet.

Day 8
We awoke in the port of LA.
On the ship/@ the Creasmans we stayed.
Reluctant to end,
When enjoying good friends.

Let's have more adventures someday!


Thanksgiving Memories

On Thanksgiving this year, I sent this photo from a restaurant
to my boys in Virginia and Kuwait. 
My sons like to tease me about my cooking. They say things like:
"Your specialty is coffee...or water."
"You are the only person I know who can burn a frozen pizza."
I'm really not that terrible a cook, but I lack two important qualities of a skilled chef: interest and the ability to focus. So easily I get distracted in my multi-tasking. 

But, "necessity is the mother of invention," and living in Asia for years I managed to gain some Holiday Cooking Skills.

The BEST Thanksgivings were the years we had an Open House in Singapore. We'd get the word out to any expat "orphans." We invited Singaporean friends. They had grown up watching American TV shows depicting Thanksgiving, but they had never actually eaten sweet potatoes with brown sugar sauce. A large group always came willing to step in and be our surrogate extended family. 
Everyone brought something, so we always had enough to eat. It always seemed a bit miraculous how it worked out without any RSVPs. I cooked as much as my oven would bear of the traditional foods. Stuffing was always the favorite. 
One year, 2009 we had over 60 people come through our 1200sq foot apartment. The place was packed. We gathered around a table piled high with food, and my husband James welcomed everyone. He told of the initial Thanksgiving feast with the pilgrims. He read a few of the Thanksgiving proclamations made by previous American presidents. Everyone's mouths were watering as we smelled the foods beneath us as Jim said the prayer.
As soon as Jim said "AMEN," I had a terrible realization. I had neglected to make gravy. 
Our son Tyler, then sixteen, was apoplectic. "HOW CAN YOU FORGET THE GRAVY? THAT'S THE BEST PART!!???" 
I whipped some up pretty fast and we managed to not suffer without it. You can bet I'll never forget gravy again! 

My first Thanksgiving in China 1997, we had lived there for less than two months. I didn't have a stove or range to cook on. I didn't even have pots and pans! Still, It was Thanksgiving. I NEEDED to make some epicurean comfort.  The problem was that I was already in my 30's and married over ten years, but I had always avoided the kitchen.  What I lacked in experience and interest, I made up for in creativity and determination. We needed a break from our daily fair of local Chinese cafeteria foods. So, I set out to do it all. I was going to produce the Thanksgiving Feast.
(Besides, my parents were flying over from Los Angeles. And they were worried about how we were surviving life in mainland China.)
I found an electric oven the size of a breadbox. It had an erratic thermostat, yet I managed to bake pies and cornbread. I found a crockpot in a local department store and used it to make everything else. The potatoes, stuffing and sweet potatoes were cooked in that crock pot, layered with aluminum foil. 
We found a turkey for sale from the kitchen at the best hotel in town: THE HOLIDAY INN. We took that bird to a local pizza restaurant with a large brick oven. 
It all turned out quite edible! And for the happy grandparents who missed the kids so much, it didn't matter WHAT we ate! I was so proud of myself to get it all hot at the same time through unconventional methods. 
I survived those two years in China by thinking I was camping indoors; all the time. Thanksgiving '97 was one of the milestones.


Cameron's Recycled Childhood - Work in Progress

Working like crazy 
to get this done before 
Parents Weekend when I'll see #2. 
I may be setting some kind of record 
for quilting outside of a sweatshop.


How Vulnerable are You?

Looking at the quadrant below, how vulnerable are you? With God? With key relationships? In groups you belong to? Where were you in your home as a child or key groups as a young adult? In order to experience rewarding community with others, we need to be willing to be both committed and vulnerable.

THE BEST QUOTE I HEARD THIS YEAR helps frame this: We can't have deep community with EVERYONE. When speaking about relationships at the Joyce Meyer conference this year, author/speaker Beth Moore said we need to aim for:

Authenticity with all.
Transparency with most.
Intimacy with some.

This is just a tool to help you identify a trend in your relationships. Ask the Lord for wisdom about how and with whom you should move toward more vulnerable and committed community.

You will find that in different relationships and in different seasons of your life you find you move degrees in different quadrants.

Not Vulnerable
Not Committed
Not Vulnerable
(author’s example of her friendships who she didn’t let “in” to know her truly)
Not Committed
(author’s example of being a speaker sharing her past secrets with strangers in her audiences)

"…it boils down to a decision to love others and allow yourself to be loved. Surrender requires risk.” - Anne Marie Miller, Lean on Me. p 49

"The people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.” - BrenĂ© Brown

…the idea of surrendering or submitting to others in relationships is frightening and can be met with a tremendous amount of resistance. Do you find yourself hesitant when it comes to the idea of inviting another person into your life in such a vulnerable way?


How Emotionally Healthy are YOU?

As we began a read through of Lean on Me, Anne Marie Miller, my dear friend Lyn Woodruff did some searching/compiling this list for our study group. It's worth sharing. How Emotionally Healthy are YOU based on this list? 

Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence/Health and Spiritual Maturity

1. You have a robust emotional vocabulary.  Ps. 139:23-24; Rom. 8:26
All people experience emotions, but it is a select few who can accurately identify them as they occur. Our research shows that only 36
percent of people can do this, which is problematic because unlabeled emotions often go misunderstood, which leads to irrational choices
and counterproductive actions.
People with high EQs master their emotions because they understand them, and they use an extensive vocabulary of feelings to do so.
While many people might describe themselves as simply feeling "bad," emotionally intelligent people can pinpoint whether they feel
"irritable," "frustrated," "downtrodden," or "anxious." The more specific your word choice, the better insight you have into exactly how you
are feeling, what caused it, and what you should do about it.
2. You’re curious about people. 1Pet. 3:8; Rom. 12:15; 1John 3:17; Heb. 4:15
It doesn't matter if they're introverted or extroverted, emotionally intelligent people are curious about everyone around them. This curiosity
is the product of EMPATHY, one of the most significant gateways to a high EQ. The more you care about other people and what
they're going through, the more curiosity you're going to have about them.
3. You embrace change.  Eccles. 3:1-8; 2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 4:22-24; Isa. 43:18-19
Emotionally intelligent people are flexible and are constantly adapting. They know that fear of change is paralyzing and a major threat to
their success and happiness. They look for change that is lurking just around the corner, and they form a plan of action should these
changes occur.
4. You know your strengths and weaknesses. 2 Cor.12:5-7
Emotionally intelligent people don't just understand emotions; they know what they're good at and what they're terrible at. They also know
who pushes their buttons and the environments (both situations and people) that enable them to succeed. Having a high EQ means you
know your strengths and how to lean into and use them to your full advantage while keeping your weaknesses from holding you back.
5. You’re a good judge of character. John 7:24; 1 John 4: 1-6; Proverbs
Much of emotional intelligence comes down to social awareness; the ability to read other people, know what they're about, and understand
what they're going through. Over time, this skill makes you an exceptional judge of character. People are no mystery to you. You know
what they're all about and understand their motivations, even those that lie hidden beneath the surface.
6. You are difficult to offend. Eccles. 7:21-22; Prov. 11:12; Col. 3:13
If you have a firm grasp of who you are, it's difficult for someone to say or do something that gets your goat. Emotionally intelligent people
are self-confident and open-minded, which creates a pretty thick skin. You may even poke fun at yourself or let other people make jokes
about you because you are able to mentally draw the line between humor and degradation.
7. You know how to say no (to yourself and others). Gal. 5:22-23
Emotional intelligence means knowing how to exert self-control. You delay gratification and avoid impulsive action. Research conducted at
the University of California, San Francisco, shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience
stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is a major self-control challenge for many people, but "No" is a powerful word that you
should unafraid to wield. When it's time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases such as "I don't think I can" or "I'm not
certain." Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
8. You let go of mistakes. Heb. 8:12; Phil. 3: 13-14; Ps. 51:10
Emotionally intelligent people distance themselves from their mistakes, but do so without forgetting them. By keeping their mistakes at a
safe distance, yet still handy enough to refer to, they are able to adapt and adjust for future success. It takes refined self-awareness to walk
this tightrope between dwelling and remembering. Dwelling too long on your mistakes makes you anxious and gun shy, while forgetting
about them completely makes you bound to repeat them. The key to balance lies in your ability to transform failures into nuggets of
improvement. This creates the tendency to get right back up every time you fall down.
9. You give and expect nothing in return. Lk. 6:35
When someone gives you something spontaneously, without expecting anything in return, this leaves a powerful impression. For example,
you might have an interesting conversation with someone about a book, and when you see them again a month later, you show up with the
book in hand. Emotionally intelligent people build strong relationships because they are constantly thinking about others.
10. You don't hold grudges. Eph. 4:31-32; Mt. 6:14-15
The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event sends your body
into fight-or-flight mode, a survival mechanism that forces you to stand up and fight or run for the hills when faced with a threat. When the
threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when the threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on
your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto
stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you're holding onto stress, and emotionally
intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Letting go of a grudge not only makes you feel better now but can also improve your
11. You neutralize toxic people. Zech. 8:16-17
Dealing with difficult people is frustrating and exhausting for most. But high-EQ individuals control their interactions with toxic people by
keeping their feelings in check. When they need to confront a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. They identify their own
emotions and don't allow anger or frustration to fuel the chaos. They also consider the difficult person's standpoint and are able to find
solutions and common ground. Even when things completely derail, emotionally intelligent people are able to take the toxic person with a
grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down.
12. You don't seek perfection. Rom. 3:23
Emotionally intelligent people won't set perfection as their target because they know that it doesn't exist. Human beings, by our very nature,
are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you're always left with a nagging sense of failure that makes you want to give up or reduce your
effort. You end up spending time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and should have done differently instead of moving forward,
excited about what you've achieved and what you will accomplish in the future.
13. You appreciate what you have. 1 Thess. 5:18; Jas. 1:17
Taking time to contemplate what you're grateful for isn't merely the right thing to do; it also improves your mood by reducing the stress
hormone cortisol (in some cases by 23 percent). Research conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that people who work
daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experience improved mood,energy, and physical well-being. It's likely that lower levels of cortisol
play a major role in this.
14. You disconnect. Mt. 11:28-30; Ps. 46:10
Taking regular time off the grid is a sign of a high EQ because it helps you to keep your stress under control and to live in the moment.
When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors. Forcing yourself offline and
even--gulp!--turning off your phone gives your body and mind a break. Studies have shown that something as simple as an email break can
lower stress levels. Technology enables constant communication and the expectation that you should be available 24/7. It is extremely
difficult to enjoy a stress-free moment outside of work when an email with the power to bring your thinking (read: stressing) back to work
can drop onto your phone at any moment
15. You limit your caffeine intake.  Gal. 5:22-23
Drinking excessive amounts of caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline, which is the primary source of a fight-or-flight response. The
fight-or-flight mechanism sidesteps rational thinking in favor of a faster response to ensure survival. This is great when a bear is chasing
you, but not so great when you're responding to a curt email. When caffeine puts your brain and body into this hyper-aroused state of stress,
your emotions overrun your behavior. Caffeine's long half-life ensures you stay this way as it takes its sweet time working its way out of
your body. High-EQ individuals know that caffeine is trouble, and they don't let it get the better of them.
16. You get enough sleep. Ps. 23:2; Lam. 3:23; Mk. 2:27
It's difficult to overstate the importance of sleep to increasing your emotional intelligence and managing your stress levels. When you sleep,
your brain literally recharges, shuffling through the day's memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams) so that you wake
up alert and clearheaded. High-EQ individuals know that their self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when they don't get
enough--or the right kind--of sleep. So, they make sleep a top priority.
17. You stop negative self-talk in its tracks. Rom. 12: 1-2; 2 Cor. 10:5; Phil. 4:8
The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that--thoughts, not
facts. When it feels like something always or never happens, this is just your brain's natural tendency to perceive threats (inflating the
frequency or severity of an event). Emotionally intelligent people separate their thoughts from the facts in order to escape the cycle of
negativity and move toward a positive, new outlook.
18. You won't let anyone limit your joy. Rom. 12:3; 1 Pet. 5:8
When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people, you are no longer the master of your own
happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something they've done, they won't let anyone's opinions or snide remarks
take that away from them. While it's impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think, you don't have to compare yourself to
others, and you can always take people's opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your
self-worth comes from within.