3 Steps to Achieving Your New Year’s Financial Resolution

As another new year begins, I bet that many people have made some sort of financial resolution.

Maybe it’s to get out of debt. Maybe it’s to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck. Perhaps it’s to build some savings. Or maybe it’s to fund a vacation before actually taking the vacation. The resolution can take many shapes but the bottom line is still the same.

People want change.

And, in this case, people want a financial change.

If that is you this year, welcome. Welcome to the club. Grab a drink, pull up a chair and let’s chat because you and I are working toward the same thing: to see a difference in our financial lives at the end of 2017 than what we are starting 2017 with.

My particular financial resolution? To pay off another $17,000 in debt. pelskgra2nu-fabian-blank

Yeah. Seventeen thousand. That’s a big number.

And, to be honest, it feels like a big goal. But, my husband and I have been toddling along on this debt-free journey for five years now. And we’re ready to be done with it. We’re ready to get serious and focused. We’re ready to start running.

So…why not set a goal that feels a little too big for our britches? It’s not a goal that is completely out of reach, mind you. That would be counter-productive, I think. Instead, it’s a goal that is just out of reach. Enough to make us work just a little harder, push just a little longer and dig just a little deeper in order to pull it off.

And how are we going to get this debt paid off, you ask? Well, simple. We’re going to follow three steps.

  1. Budget
  2. Follow the budget
  3. Stop making excuses.

That’s it. We’ve been doing step 1 our entire marriage. It’s steps 2 and 3 that have been the issue. We have faithfully had a household “budget meeting” every month – before the month began – since we got married five years ago. We just haven’t followed the budget that we made quite as faithfully.

This year, however, that is going to change because we are no longer going to allow ourselves to make the excuses that we’ve come up with over the course of our marriage.

Restaurants can wait. Guns can wait. New-to-us cars can wait. Pedicures can wait. Vacations can wait. Weekend getaways can wait. All of the “extras” in life can wait because we don’t deserve anything.

Yes, we work hard. And yes, we want to enjoy the “fruits of our labor.” But, right now, we need to focus on freeing up all of the income we’re making today for future opportunities instead of it being obligated to the past. And that means foregoing some “extra” now so we can enjoy it more later.

So, who’s with me? Who’s ready to stop making the excuses that keep you from fulfilling your 2017 financial resolution?

 

 

It’s Not About Guns, It’s About Hate

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My husband is kind of a shy guy. He doesn’t feel the need to talk (unless it’s in the car with me). He has opinions, but doesn’t feel the need to share them and when he does speak, it is usually to make a joke or say something witty or funny. He’s a serious guy, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Which is one of the things I love the most about him.

Which is why, when earlier today he was typing away on his phone, I asked him what he was doing.  My curiosity was piqued even more when he replied, “ranting.”

Last night, 50 people were murdered. Fifty. Five. Zero.

And why were they murdered?   

…one word.

Hatred.

My husband’s “rant” was posted on Facebook and centered around this ugly, heavy, ridiculous word. In it, he says,

I’m absolutely DISGUSTED to see people ON BOTH SIDES of the 2nd Amendment using the tragedy in Orlando to push their agenda. It hasn’t even been 24-hours since FIFTY people were MURDERED and yet all you can do is salivate at the mouth to say, “told you so.” Whether or not you believe this country has a gun problem or a mental health problem, this country DOES have a hate problem. Until that is solved it doesn’t matter how folks will hurt and kill others, they’ll find a way.

And I’m not just talking about the killer hating homosexuals. Folks hating him not for killing these innocent people but because he’s a radical Muslim. Pro gun hating the anti’s and visa-versa.

What if I told you you could disagree with someone, with their values, with their religion, but not hate them???! What if I told you that when people who disagree with your opinions it doesn’t mean they hate you??!

Guess what, I don’t agree with gay marriage. But guess what, I don’t hate homosexuals. I love them. I am privileged call many of them friends. We just happen to disagree on an issue that’s very important to them. Guess what? I don’t agree with how Muslims practice religion, because I am a Christian. But I don’t hate them, I love them. I have several Muslim friends, we just disagree on how we practice religion. Continue on and on with anyone who is different than or thinks different than me. GREAT. They have an opinion and a belief just like I do. I’m not perfect, but it’s how I strive to live.

Those differences of ideas and opinions SHOULD be what makes this thing we call humanity great, but instead we chose to hate and use them to bring humanity where it has come to today.

Jesus said the second greatest command is to love your neighbor. Excuse the language but he never said to hurt people or be an asshole to them because they think differently than you.

So in the wake of today’s tragedy, I say this. Shut up about your ideas and feelings on Guns, homosexuals and Muslims. Leave your hate at home. Go hug someone you love and be thankful you still can. Today, thanks to hate, the families and friends of more than FIFTY people can never hug that special someone again. Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in.

If you pray – pray for the families and friends of those killed in this senseless act. Pray for those that witnessed it and will face trauma for the rest of their lives. Pray for the physicians treating the many wounded. Pray for the family and friends of the killer as they wrestle with what he did. Pray for this country and this generation to turn from a people of hate into a country of love where people can express different ideas back and forth and be ok with someone else disagreeing with them.

If you’re still reading this, whether we disagree on issues or not, I love you and respect you.

Rant over.

This isn’t about guns, people. It’s not about guns or words or knives or bombs or gas or rope or scissors or pencils or cars or fire or anything else that is used as a weapon against another human being.

This is about hatred.

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And until we can snuff out hatred, innocent lives will continue to be snuffed out by hatred-fueled violence.

You wanna stop senseless killings?

You wanna make the world a safer place?

You wanna raise your children in a world with less violence?

Stop the hate.

Learn to love people who are different than you. Learn to disagree with people who are different than you (without getting angry about it). Get over yourself, take responsibility for yourself and learn to get along with others.

You don’t have to like everyone in the world, but what’s the harm in loving them?

The Safety Net of Truth

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:16a (ESV)

A few years ago, while on an eleven month long mission trip, I was walking a field in the Philippines. It was a makeshift soccer – or, should I say, fútbol – field and my squad was clearing out rocks and debris that would make it difficult for the kids at the children’s home to play. A squadmate of mine and I were having a conversation. She was asking a little bit about my life – my family, my childhood, siblings, parents, pets, college, work – basically all of the normal conversation topics that might come up after four months of traveling the world with the same 60+ plus people.

I remember voicing something to her in that conversation that I’d never really voiced before. Something that surprised me as I said it but was undeniably true once I heard it.

Even though I had experienced a chaotic childhood and had continued to care for an unpredictable mother until her suicide the year before, I had never hit the proverbial “rock bottom.” There had never been a time when I had felt completely helpless with nowhere to go. I had managed to keep from using destructive things like drugs, alcohol and sex to numb pain or escape the chaos or calm the confusion. And I had never even entertained the thought of ending my life.

My friend asked me why I thought I’d managed to handle things so well. And, as we walked a few more paces in silence, stooped over so we could pick up the rocks and put them in our buckets to clear them from the field, a quiet but confident thought stirred in my soul.

 Because of the Lord.

Because He has always been my safety net.

It was a sweet, sweet revelation and one that I was humbled to admit. My God had never left me. He had never forsaken me. He had always been there to catch me.

Ironically, in the three years that would immediately follow my return from that mission trip, I would finally find myself in the deep, dark places of depression. And the memory of that conversation would fade away leaving me to feel completely alone, fully helpless and not at all safe.

But, just as the Lord was my safety net through childhood and early adulthood, so was He three years later and still on through today. My feelings don’t change Truth; they just may make it harder to believe. [pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]My feelings don’t change Truth; they just may make it harder to believe.[/pullquote]

Friend, what are you struggling to believe today?

If it is that God is for you and not against you. If it is that He has a plan for you, one to prosper and not to harm you. If it is that He will never leave you or forsake you. If it is that God has not forgotten you. …then let go and fall safely in to the waiting arms of God.

He is there.

And He will catch you.

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I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #GodsMasterpiece series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

A Message Laced with Grace

When I was growing up, my mom would often say to me, “I’m about to knock you off that pedestal you’ve put yourself on.” It was her way of telling me that I had crossed a line and become “too big for my britches,” acting like and believing that I was something special. More special than someone else because of a talent that I had or how well I was doing in school or how athletic I was when it came to running. She didn’t want me to think of myself as being better than anyone for any reason. And, though her methods in teaching me were a bit rough and her words were harsh, it was a good lesson for me to learn. To this day, I hear her message anytime I feel like I might be better than another person.

But, I also hear another message.

I hear my Father’s message. And His message sounds a little bit different than Mom’s. His message still warns of His disapproval, His dislike, His opposition to prideful people, but it also reminds me that He will not cast me aside, tear me down or knock me off of my proverbial pedestal. Instead, He will extend grace to me, that I may see my faults and run to Him in repentance.

It is a message laced with grace.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]A prideful heart cannot accept this grace because it will not accept that it is sinful. (click to tweet) [/pullquote]

A prideful heart cannot accept this grace because it will not accept that it is sinful. And the Lord will not force His grace upon anyone. But a humble heart can – even when tempted with pride – welcome the gift of grace that He extends and walk through that temptation with His help.

I pray, today, that you and I are always humble enough to accept the Father’s grace, whether we think we need it or not.

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I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #Grace series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

Love God. Love People.

A few years ago, while managing a local coffee shop, I sat down to put together the schedule for the upcoming pay period. I was in my late 20s and had just moved back to my hometown after living in a different state for a year. I had no idea why I’d moved home, honestly, except that I felt like it was what the Lord had led me to do.

In those days, I often wondered what the purpose of my life was.
Frequently, I would ask myself two questions:

Who am I?
What am I doing here?

To say that those two questions haunted my early twenties would be an understatement. I could not get away from them. In my waking and my sleeping. In my resting and my working. In my crying and my laughing. In my everything, they were there.

Nudging me. Poking me. Pestering me. Perhaps not every day, but a few times a week and multiple times each month, I would sense theses questions lingering on the edges of my mind.

That day in the coffee shop was no different.

Except that it was.

On that day, I felt an answer come in reply to the questions. It was one of those out-of-the-blue, you-know-it-didn’t-come-from-you type answers. I wasn’t praying. I wasn’t worshiping. I wasn’t even reading the Bible. I was working. I was just doing “life” and, still, my Father chose to meet with me and speak to me. He said, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “…love your neighbor as yourself….”

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]“…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “…love your neighbor as yourself…” (Matt. 22:37-40, ESV)[/pullquote]

I’ve been a Christian all of my life. I’d heard this verse many, many, many times before that day, but I’d never heard it directly from Him. And when I did, I understood three things. I am His (otherwise, I would not be bound to follow His commands). And my purpose here is to love Him and love others.

That’s it. That’s all I am ultimately here for. And if I can focus on those three truths when life doesn’t make sense, I can find myself and my direction again.

As you go through your life, I hope that you can find comfort in those same truths as well.

You are His. Love Him and love others.

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18 Matthew 22 37 (1)

I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #LoveIs series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

#write31days: cheating

I’m cheating today.

It’s been a really long and full four days here in Cambodia! I am pretty pooped and tomorrow Scott and I are hopping on a bus for a six hour ride to another city called Siem Reap. There, we will continue capturing “B-Roll” footage of Cambodia by capturing some shots of Angkor Wat and some of the other surrounding temples! …all that to say, I’m going to redirect you to the blog I wrote for Kaleidoscope today and use it as today’s post. 🙂

Don’t hate me.