Credit Cards: Approach with Caution

A few days ago I received mail in a glossy envelope, the type specifically made to prevent outsiders from knowing its contents. As usual with suspicious packaging, I held my breath as I opened the envelope to prevent the possibility of anthrax poisoning. Inside, I discovered something just as potentially lethal:

An invitation to apply for a credit card.

The main cause for America’s recession period and excessive debt is simply that the country borrows what it never was able to pay. The government has borrowed approximately $114 trillion at the moment, while the average American debt is about 7.9 thousand per household.

This deal in particular offered no interest for nine months. “Hmm,” I thought, “I have been meaning to purchase some quality speakers to make beats with, as well as a Rosetta Stone language or two—whoa! What am I saying?”

You see, credit is not exactly evil, but it definitely can threaten your fiscal wellbeing when you use it to purchase items you wouldn’t otherwise have the money for. There are few generally accepted exemptions to this rule, including purchasing a house and a car, deemed by many as neccessities worth financing.

Now that we’ve cleared up the pros and cons of credit cards, I’ll admit that this particular offer, made by Discovercard, is actually worth looking into. With their college student card, they offer 0 annual fees and no interest for nine months. Why? In order to help me build my credit, they state. A good credit history is crucial to getting great deals on everything from financing electronics to a house. With a high credit score, you can finance certain items with low or no interest charges!

“Still not sure? Ask the professionals… your parents,” suggests a small slip of paper included in the package. The message here is that Discovercard is not trying to deceive you or hit you with flagrant fees and interest, and if anyone can detect a scheme, it’s your parents with their vast years of experience. After all, how else do you think they afforded that nice minivan they shepherded you around in during your adolescent years?

Long story short, approach credit card deals with dire caution and read the fine print. If you can take advantage of a college card deal without going crazy, I would highly advise you to do so!

As for those loans, now that’s another story. If you can escape, do so!

How to Have a Good Day

Yes, I know that Nyack College New York City is on break until the 18th. Do I continue to learn throughout the year? Most definitely! One of the most important areas to develop regularly is your spirit. Recently, I learned how we can set ourselves up to have a truly happy New Year.

Isn’t it our aim when our feet hit the floor each morning to have a good day? Dr. Gary Chapman pointed out in one of his books that many of us choose to get out of bed early because we anticipate that something is worth getting out of bed for.

This Sunday, Matthew 5:3 (The Sermon on the Mount) was discussed. Jesus’ opening line, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” surely left many on that hilltop bewildered, and still confuses people today. Personally, I never really understood the verse myself until this sermon.

As you can see, I take a lot of notes. Just like college!

We discovered that “the poor in spirit” are simply those who realize that even with their many achievements (or despite any), they are still reliant on God to sustain them on a daily basis.

Here’s one easy litmus test that determines whether or not you are reliant in the morning: do you wake up choosing to read the Bible and have a conversation with God about, for instance, how your day will transpire? Or do you barrel out of bed either confident that you’ve “got this!”

The biggest lesson for me was to not wake up and automatically check my cell phone for missed calls or the internet for new emails, but to take at least few moments—even if I overslept—to get my priorities straight and thank God in advance for another good day. The more you acknowledge that certain currently-held positions, degrees, and future accomplishments are achieved beyond your own ability, and that He’s the “more to the picture” in your life, you’ll be in good shape to win.

Why? God looks down, sees an opportunity to achieve glory and touch others through your life, and says, “let’s get it.” Eureka, huh? Not to mention the blessings!

You can hear the whole message and take your own two pages worth of notes via iTunes. Remember, whether you have a GED or a Doctorates, you still need to rely on God to have a truly good year.

Thoughts this Christmas

I’m sure you’ve already had your full of discourse about Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah already, but here’s one more opportunity to contemplate the reason for the season! Professor Bud DiFluri from Rockland campus sent a thought provoking message to students and gave me permission to reproduce it for this blog.

Full house at the Radio City Music Hall on December 23rd.

As in so many hours each day of the year, time in my “world’s messiest office” seems to take precedence over “real” life. Nearby are two houses, one fully decked with  Christmas lights, one with none, and the local gentry are each wondering how and when  “real” winter will be upon us…

Our house is warm, we have peace in our surroundings—Joan’s hip replacement operation has proven as successful as can be—and we silently praise Him for His blessings. We have comparative solitude and peace in the quietness  given to face the day.

But, we’re continually made aware of our society’s frenetic “Mall-ness”: folks rushing about, forcing themselves to revel in the continuing activity of the commercial season foisted upon us… as in past years, visiting the same subject, we’re still aware of being sold a “bill of goods” on so many levels.

Gazing into the mirror, it becomes apparent that we innately KNOW of something larger—the beauty of the continuation of friendships with shortened shadows “….ohhh it’s a long long time from May till December…” (That’s “September Song” from “Knickerbocker Holiday”)

The typical words of “our” season now come to mind through the “old” music: the “Drummer Boys,” “Silver Bells,” “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” and ”Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.”  What new is there to say?  It’s all been said hasn’t it? …Has It?

As we hear and see the “usual” music playing,  we innately wait for the message which the Season is to bring, thinking of the possibilities—the “wonders” of this Blessed Season.

But what message will you get, and what message IS  there to get?? Will you get a message that is not even remotely tied to the what-we’re-sold-as the age-old Christmas message? Will you get a message that paints a picture of the perfect family and perfect Christmas (if there IS such a thing), while millions of lives are full of chaos, struggle, grief and stress? Have we been sold a “bill of goods” on so many levels?

I still don’t think Christmas is about having still another “Hallmark moment”  message with happy endings. Sometimes there aren’t happy endings. Sometimes this thing called “life” is not sweet and syrupy and doesn’t end up with a guy in red suit flying across the face of a full moon declaring “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night” or Jimmy Stewart proclaiming, “It’s a wonderful life.”  Sometimes we want to close our eyes and not open them until after New Years Day!

Well, God has come to be with us! He takes us by the hand, gently guiding us through the grief, stress and struggle of the season. He tenderly opens, then lifts our eyes, assuring us in the days of fake sweetness. He quietly announces His confidence in us, and the World.

You’re probably like us—not everything in your life is “Hallmark Moment” perfect and  “Happily ever after” accompanied by sweet background music.  But the GOOD NEWS is that God is with us in this imperfect life and struggling journey and He has given us the gift of an ultimate “happy ending!”

He comes into our lives! So, join us and permit Him to open, then lift our eyes—for God is with us.  Know that His “SON”, born at Christmas, is bringing brightness into every dark corner of our lives.

That is the gift of Christmas!!  That is what we celebrate!!

May you feel the presence of God gently opening YOUR eyes during this Christmas season!

With Much Love, from

The DiFluri’s

Thank you Mr. DiFluri! Everyone, until next year.

Back in Chicago

Back in Chicago again! This city is becoming a second hometown.

So just like the previous semester, I took a trip straight to Chicago the day after my last final. This time I drove back with my sister & my brother-in-law, as well as a friend they invited to their trip to NY. The plan was to spend about four days in Illinois doing life with them. So far, so great.

I’ve been meaning to get back into music making and drawing, so on Saturday, I spent nearly the entire day learning these crafts via the Internet. As a result, I improved on drawing lips and eyes. I also learned how to make drum sounds from scratch (a pretty big deal!).

My brother preached a sermon at two home churches on Sunday! This was an interesting experience for me, as I attend what people here like to call a “megachurch.” Watching everyone sit around on couches and chairs and interact with the “pastor,” asking questions and whatnot, was pretty cool.

Today we went to a house-completely-converted-into-an-industry-standard studio, where my brother made improvements to his album project… and used my beat in the intro. Let’s say the album is the equivalent of the YouVersion Bible App—100% free, but high quality with plenty invested behind the scenes for your spiritual benefit.

There are still several adventures to be had before I return to NY and return to the 9-5 life. Right now, I’m making the most of winter break, doing normal people stuff—like sleeping for 7 hours and watching football. See you after Christmas (and Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah)!

End of the Semester

It’s that time of year- not only for the Holidays but for >FINALS< and the >END OF THE SEMESTER<

Before the semester started, my fiance, JP, and I took this picture the day I moved into Nyack and the day he left for Seminary! Looking at it now really amazes me… I cannot believe how fast the semester went by! While I was going on my third year- JP was starting his first year as a Graduate student!

Now as I write this, JP is driving home from Massachusetts & I’m studying for one more final that’s tomorrow!! He is done and I’m almost done!!

I’m happy for all that I’ve been able to accomplish this semester. I am proud of my seminarian. I cannot wait for this break!

(( p.s. looking at this picture also makes me MISS summer!! lol ))

Pharmacology

Take a look. Laid out like that, they look kind of pretty- right?
Well I’ll tell you this much: they are NOT fun to learn!

One of my goals this winter break is to brush up on my pharmacology knowledge. There is so much to know! I don’t know how Pharmacists do it! A nurse definitely doesn’t have to know as much as they do!

I am glad to be going into nursing, because in reality – we do have the Pharmacist to call when we have a question.
But it is best to know on your own the types of drugs and their classifications/adverse side effects/indications/action/patient teaching — phew, I’m getting tired just listing it all!

I pray that I am able to accomplish this goal!!

Christmas Decorations

Christmas!!! I love decorating for Christmas. There is something about choosing just the right spot for an ornament. Don’t you agree? Oh, and the experience is 10x greater, when Christmas music is playing in the background. Here is the tree I put up and decorated this year. Another favorite Christmas pastime is sitting around the tree with it’s lights on, and all others off-relaxing with a hot drink. Mmmmm I can’t wait for finals to be over, so I can go home and do this!

Nyack College NYC Business Club

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“Did you know that Nyack College NYC has a club for business students and students who want to know about the business world?”

It’s true—Nyack College Business Club NYC put in plenty of hours this semester. As we strengthened the club internally, we also managed to plan and host several events. Watch this video of us presenting “Personal Finance: Spending Your Money in a More Realistic Way.”

Since that seminar, we’ve also presented on stock market investing as well as “Jeopardy: Business Edition.” As planned, it was both a fun and educational evening. Students learned more about business, and business students enjoyed trivia that refreshed their memory or reaffirmed their knowledge.

The Business Club grows in quality and number each semester; it’s definitely an organization to keep an eye on!

Pastor and Leadership Conference

Long time no write! If you couldn’t tell, the Life at Nyack blog went on a brief hiatus. Yes, we have plenty of catching up to do.

A few weeks ago, the NYC Campus SGA members and other school leaders were invited to attend Brooklyn Tabernacle’s 2011 Pastor and Leadership Conference. The event, titled “Be Encouraged,” featured two days of messages, prayer, and workshops on topics ranging from children’s ministry to evangelism in the 21st century.

At breakfast, we interacted with pastors and leaders from around the U.S. and the world who came to, well, “be encouraged.” In the morning and afternoon, we heard from speakers Pastor Jim Cymbala and Francis Chan, who reminded the attendees why they were called to serve.

Also speaking was Ravi Zacharias, an apologetics teacher. He spoke on Daniel 1—if we choose to keep ourselves spiritually healthy in an unhealthy world, we’ll be fit to accomplish great things.

What did I learn from the session? Plenty, but here’s one of the most memorable tips on leadership: a breakdown of the words, “well done my good and faithful servant.”

  • Well: Do everything with excellence.
  • Done: There is importance and value in someone getting the job done. If you mess up, apologize, but get it done.
  • Good: Develop personal character.
  • Faithful: Don’t end off like Samson, good in character but not faithful to his cause. Don’t compare yourself to others. Stay consistent.
  • Servant: Never get a big head. Will you be able to do simple tasks? When asked for help, respond, “what do you need?” Help others.

Thanks to the Office of Student Development in NYC for providing the opportunity!

Relationships Taken Seriously

You are foolish to give up a relationship because the other person annoys you- bothers you- or even hurts you. If you do this then you can be sure that you’ll end up alone. Because at the end of the day, friendship is about confronting the person that annoys you, bothers you, and hurts you. Relationships require us to Talk things through, Commit to do doing things better & most of all Love Uncondi…tionally. These are the kinds of relationships that are well worth it- not only for your benefit, but for each others. Ask yourself what relationships are worth the fight and don’t have self-serving motives. Just some thoughts. So thankful to have growing friendships & be engaged to the BEST GUY in the world (even though I never thought I’d be engaged this long… hahaa lol). Till we’re hitched and death does us part 😉 I love you J.p. Ilarraza!!

Hillsong NYC Church

Today, I had the privilege to visit the Hillsong NYC Church in Manhattan! The excursion happened with a friend, my lovely fiance, and future sister in-law. Although traffic made us a bit late- it was all well worth it. The place was packed! Especially, since it was the third service of the day. The service lasted about 2 hours— and when we were leaving there was a long line of people waiting outside for the next service. It was really great to see how many people are getting involved! It definitely won’t be my last time 😀

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