Merry Christmas . . .

Merry Christmas from my house to yours . . . 

And yes, this really is my house!

I hope this is a season of joy for you, but for many this is a tough time of year.  I know of many who have lost loved ones this year and this will be the first Christmas without them.  Keep those people in your prayers as you go about your plans for Christmas.

I have missed posting blogs recently, but I am back to work!  Be on the look out tomorrow for the next one!  I am working and back in college to complete my teaching degree.  So, life is busy for this mom to say the least.  

In the midst of the hustle and bustle slow down and take time to focus on our Savior who came into the world to bring us the best gift of all . . . Eternal Life!  Focus on Him and over the next year pray for a revival in your life, the life of your family, and your community.  Revival begins with us.  I love the quote you see around this time of year “Wise Men still Seek HIM!”  Seek Him daily for a fresh word from His word, and peace in your heart no matter what the day may bring!

Jeremiah 29:12 – 13 NLT

In those days when you pray, I will listen.  If you look for me wholeheartedly,

you will find Me. 

 

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You asked about . . .

You asked about . . .  Finances

Recently I conducted a survey from my readers

to find out what was on their mind.

 Survey says . . .

(Think Family Feud

for those old enough to remember).  . . .

FINANCES

was the number one concern.

I would have to agree that has been a major concern in our family for the past couple of years too.  As with many people in the past few years, my husband lost his job and was out of work for six months.  If we had not built up our  savings, we would have been in a world of hurt.  Well, let me correct that statement.  If my husband had not saved, we would have been in a world of hurt.  My husband is more disciplined to save than me, and I love to spend.  We manage our money together.  He keeps the checkbook balanced, and I make sure the bills are paid on time.

For those of you that have not made savings a priority yet I am here to say like Nike . . . “Just do it.”  Even if it is only $5 a month till you can do more.  Make it a habit today, or well over the next 21 days!  Yes, it is very hard, and I know that some people may not be able to save right now either.  Just like us, many people are in survival mode.  You can make it a game to look for ways to save, create a budget and stick to the plan.

Three things to help your financial status now:

  1. SAVE – general recommendation  is 3 -6 months of income.  I prefer 6 months in this economy, because it takes a while to get another job.  If you have nothing in savings right now, Dave Ramsey recommends a goal of $1000 to begin, or if it is easier to accomplish start with a goal of $500.  Then reset your goal until you have the three to six months in savings.  Yes, this make take a year or more to accomplish.  This is your emergency fund, but more on that next time.
  2. Create a Budget aka ‘Cash Flow Plan” – Look for ways to cut expenses. See NOTE Below.
  3. Ask the question, “Do I have the cash to pay for this right now?” Answer honestly. This has been the hardest lesson that I have learned through this trial, but applies at all times of life.  This question has curbed my impulse spending tremendously.  I literally will ask myself, “Do I/we have the money for this right now?”  Most of the time the answer is no, and I have learned to wait or plan a purchase.  Sometimes it is something that I really can live without, but just wanted at the time.  “If you do not have the cash for it, then you cannot buy it.” 

So, save, save, save . . .  It is more glamorous to have cash than to have credit card bills.  So the next time that cute outfit screams your name or for the men, that gadget begs to go home with you, ask yourself the question “Do I have cash to pay for this gadget/outfit?” Usually you will know the answer without consulting your bank account balance.

We are called to be good stewards of the resources God gives us.  An important resource for most of us is our family income.  When we are being obedient to God’s word in the area of finances, it leads us to be more disciplined in other areas of our lives.   Yes, there may be times in our lives that we desire to be good stewards, but our best efforts are to no avail.  Over the past year, I had great difficulty finding a permanent job.  For about 4 months I did not have a job.  All you can do in those moments is pray and ask God for wisdom and guidance on what to do.  I didn’t like it, but there were payments skipped when I was not working.   I finally got the chance to catch up in August when I found a permanent job!  Praise the Lord!

God saw my heart and knew that I wanted to pay my bills on time.  Actually, I prayed about it long and hard many days.  Remember that your credit score and your bank account balance are just a number.  (Should you care about them, and take responsibility for your financial decisions? Yes!)  They do not define who you are.  Only God can define us!  I am his precious child whom He loves dearly.  He loved me so much that He sent His ONLY Son to die on the cross for me, so that I may have a clean and open relationship with Him.

NOTE:  Sign up to receive my post by e-mail (I do not share your e-mail with any third parties!) as they are updated, and I will send you a simple budget form that is easy to use  with instructions on how to use it monthly.   This is a great tool to help you get started on your savings goal. On the right, towards the top of the page you can sign up under E-mail Subscription.

Share with us your money-saving ideas AND/OR how has you and your family weathered the economic storms over the past four years?

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JUST QUIT!

JUST QUIT!

Guest Post by Casey Sollock

www.QuitToGrowRich.com

 

Do you ever feel like the only purpose you have in life is to make it through the day…only to wake up the next day to do it all over again?

 

Do you sometimes feel like you are running through life on a high-speed treadmill, going as fast as you can but never really getting anywhere?

 

Do feelings of unhappiness and stress overwhelm you?

 

Does your relationship with God need revival?

                                                      

THEN QUIT GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS!

 

My name is Casey, and I’m the founder of QuitToGrowRich.com.  The question I love to ask my coaching clients is, “What do you need to QUIT to lead your richest life?!”  So, that is the question I am asking you today.  Give that some thought.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

You see, at one point in my life I could answer yes to all of those questions above.  I was just going through the motions (and almost wasted $65,000 on law school because of it…that’s a long story that I won’t get into here!), and my relationship with God did need revival.  I was a wife and mother and had completely lost myself in those roles.  I was just doing whatever I could do to make it through the day.  I still had a relationship with God, but it wasn’t a deep, soul-satisfying relationship.  Things needed to change.  So, what did I do?

I got still.  In this crazy world of perpetual busy-ness, I had to make a concerted effort to BE STILL.  Maybe you need to do this, too.  I began to get into conversation with God again.  I started really listening to what he was saying.  I didn’t do all the talking!  Be quiet and hear his whispers.  They are beautiful.  I asked him what I was here for, what my purpose was.  I desperately needed to QUIT going through the motions and live my life intentionally.

 

So, what were the practical steps I took in order to QUIT going through the motions?

 

1.   I rediscovered my God-given strengths and began to nurture those.  What are your strengths?  How has God wired YOU?  There are multiple strengths assessments on the market.  The one I love is The CALL, a faith-based, life-purpose and vocational assessment.

 

2.  I realigned my priorities in life, and now nothing will knock them out-of-place Do you know what your priorities are?  Think about this and write them down.  If you let your priorities get out of line, nothing feels quite right.  Chaos ensues and so does unhappiness.

Note from Joyce:  We plan vacations and retirement with great detail.  Why don’t we create a life plan?  Isn’t how you spend your days more important that a vacation? Michael Hyatt has a great e-book (It’s short) that helps you get your priorities in order in  “Create a Life Plan” – Click on the title to learn how you can get this e-book for FREE!

3.  I focused in on what was truly fulfilling for me.  What is it that fulfills you and makes your heart sing?  WHO ARE YOU?  And, I’m not talking about all the roles you have.  Who are you deep down in your soul?  What brings you joy and happiness? God places natural gifts and abilities in each of us that we can explore and expand by learning how to be a better writer, singer, teacher, mom, wife, husband, father, create furniture, design buildings, photography or whatever that makes you get all giddy when you get a chance to do . . . . If you could have a day to do whatever you wanted, what would it be?  Is that what you are passionate about? Most likely it is your passion.

One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  To me, this says it all!  Throw off everything that hinders you (QUIT!).  Anything that makes you feel like you are “just going through the motions” should be tossed aside.  God has given you a very unique and wonderful race to run!  He wants you to be purposeful and intentional.  Remain in prayer and conversation with God so that you stay on the right path…and, persevere! 

QUIT TO GROW RICH!  Quit whatever you need to quit so you can lead your richest life…a life rich in purpose, rich in happiness, rich in health, rich in relationships, rich in God!    

From Joyce:  Thank You Casey for this great reminder to BE STILL.  God must be telling me something, because in the past 12 hours I have read three different things about being still with God.  Hmm. . . . I think He is trying to tell me something.  How about you?  How hard is it to sit still and do nothing or think of nothing for five minutes? Take five minutes to focus on God and listen to His voice.  I encourage you to try it.  Not as easy as it sounds!  May God richly bless you in this time with Him! 

Please check out Casey’s Blog and send her any questions or comments through the Leave a Reply below or directly to her website.  I know it this busy phase of my life it is hard to know what to quit.  What is hard for you to quit? We look forward to hearing how God is moving in your life today!

About Casey Sollock:

Casey understands the power of Quitting, and she loves to share her message! She is a Christian women’s speaker, life-purpose coach, and author. Casey is passionate about developing women leaders so they can create their RICHEST lives.  She teaches women of all ages how to “lead their life,” even in the midst of the multiple roles every woman holds.  Her book, Should, Could, and Would, encourages leadership thinking and taking action! While its rhyming style, fun words, and engaging illustrations capture the attention of young children, the inspirational leadership message speaks to all ages!  Casey invites you to visit her website, www.QuitToGrowRich.com, for more information about her coaching and speaking, and to find out about creating your personalized Quitness Plan!

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Falling in the Pit: Part 4 of 5

Falling in the Pit: Part 4 of 5

Repentance . . . Renewal . . . Restoration

 

Verse For Today:

Psalm 51:1-4

Background Passages: 2 Samuel 11; 12:1-5

We started our journey with David one sleepless night on his rooftop and ended up with the horrible news that his child was going to die.  Where does a broken man go from here?  Unsuccessfully, he tried hiding his sins, and Nathan came for an intervention session.  David finally breaks and confesses the lies he has been trying to hide.  Read Part 1 to 3 to know more about David’s journey. Today, we will peek into David’s heart as we read Psalm 51.

Repentance

“Have mercy upon me, O God . . .” is a great place to start when we are broken and stop running from the truth.  I need God’s mercy on a daily basis too, and He has more mercy than we can fathom.    I love how David so eloquently puts his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.  (If you have not read the whole chapter yet, please take a minute and do so now.)  David stopped running and turned back to God with all of his heart.  Nathan held up the Holy mirror of God, and David could see the blackness of his empty soul.  He had lied to everyone, pretending he was taking Bathsheba to console her.  Pretending her pregnancy occurred after their “marriage.”  Having Uriah killed in action, so he could cover his own trail of lies and betrayal.  Where do the lies stop?  How long do you keep pretending and wearing the mask?

Are you in the middle of a trail of lies now?  How do you stop the freight train of lies that keep moving down the line so fast? God sees it all.  He patiently waits for you to turn it to Him.  No sin is too large.   You cannot out love God.  Give Him the pain, the fear of the consequences, and He can bring healing and restoration to your life.  God has done a restoring work in my life from seeking my own way to seeking His way.  This has been a painful process of letting go of my will and surrendering to His.  However, after letting go, I find peace and joy living in God’s will.  My life has not been easy in His will, but I know His plans are best.

Renewal

David uses vivid images in his prayer of repentance.  In verse 1 is, “Blot out my transgressions.”  Blot was a financial term used to blot out with ink your debt either when paid or canceled.  Through the power of Jesus dying on the cross our sin debt of death was paid in full.  “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.”  The cleansing work of the Savior is completed when we give Him our rebellious and selfish hearts.   David “acknowledged” his sin to God means that he confessed specifically all the sins that he had done.  Even though he had hurt many, David prays “Against You, You only, have I sinned . . .” None of his sins were as serious as the sin against God, because he was not living by the standards God set for him.   God is not fair in our economy of right and wrong, but He is always just.  It may take years for you to wrap your mind around that concept.  However, the longer I live and the more I read how God handles things throughout the Bible I see He is just.  Even today I may not understand why God decides to do certain things or allows others to happen, but I know that He has plans we can’t completely understand (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Restoration

Restoration begins in our hearts when we have confessed our dark sins to the Savior and turn to Him for wisdom on how to live our daily lives.   God can mold and move in our lives when we soften our hardened heart towards Him.  You soften   your heart, when you decide to follow God in obedience to His word and listen to Him when He speaks to your heart.  David knew God wanted more than just lip service or some ceremony of repentance by offering a sacrifice.

“For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;

You do not delight in burnt offerings. .

The Sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,

A broken and a contrite heart –

These, O God, You will not despise.”

~ Psalm 51:16-17 NKJV ~

The Work of Revival:

I find comfort knowing that David committed some of the most atrocious sins possible, and is still known as a man after God’s own heart.  David found revival in his life after falling into the depths of the pit and turning back to God.  This gives me hope, knowing that whenever I mess up God will still have mercy on me when I turn back to Him in repentance. There is peace just waiting for me when I turn my heart back to Him.

Where are you today my friend?  Is your heart breaking right now?  God desperately wants to draw you near.  To cleanse you.  To heal you.  To set you free from the bondage.  Maybe your sin is not something you have done, but bitterness of what has been done to you.  Jesus wants to set you free from the poison of bitterness seeping into every area of your life.  Spend time with Jesus right now, and ask him to reveal any sin you need to confess. Then you will be in sweet fellowship with your Savior.  Revival of the heart is a journey, but worth the long road we travel to the feet of Jesus.

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Unite with Me in Prayer . . .

Unite with Me in Prayer . . . 

. . . for our President and Congress to make wise decisions that affect the future of our country and the lives of our children and grandchildren.  

Feel free to leave your prayers for our country in the comment section below. 

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out of the Box

Note from Joyce:  I have been MIA for the past month while working on my next class in college.  Thankfully I am done.  Below you can read some of the fruits of my labor from class.  I can’t wait for you to share your story.  Part 4 of David’s story will be ready soon.

out of the Box


As I listen to the song My Own Little World by Matthew West, it is a stark reminder of how I take the basics of life for granted.

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world, population: me

The song inspired my thinking about what I can do to get out of my own little world, my box. How can I make time to help others with all the things going on in my life? I am a college student, a wife, a mother, and the chief operating officer of our home. As well as, I am currently seeking a new job, a writer, blogger and a Sunday school teacher. Yet the words of the song always sting my heart, because when I give out of my box I feel that I am truly living.

Even though I do not have all the material things that I would like, I have more than most people around the world. My eyes were opened outside of my box as I worked at a job in downtown Albany, Ga. The number of people walking to the drug store or work amazed me. On the side of town where I live everyone drives a car, because it is too far to walk most places. Many people downtown are walking because they cannot afford a car.

One day a haphazardly dressed man who wore a pungent odor came into our office with his rheumatoid arthritis prescription, and really struck my heart. He did not have the money to fill the prescription. You could see the knots of agony that had already damaged his hands, but he didn’t come asking for money. He humbly asked to borrow some paper towels and window cleaner to clean the windows of some store fronts nearby. He looked for ways to earn the money for his medicine. I admired his approach to his problem. When he brought the cleaner back to me, I gave him my ten dollars I had for lunch money. It felt good to help someone in such a small way, but I know it is huge to have medicine for pain. I have always had money for medicine and medical care. I realized how incredibly blessed I am to have something so basic, and so important to my comfort.

This thought of helping others actually has been nagging at me for some time. Due to my strong faith in God I believe it is my way of giving back to others the way people have given to me. As the song asks, “What if there is a greater purpose?” makes me realize that my helping others is not about me, but about them. When I take the focus off of my needs, my family, my life, I enter into someone else’s world and can make a greater impact than if I just stay “safe” in my own little box. The ultimate goal is to give not to receive. However, every time I give of myself to others I find I receive so much more in return.

What bothers me about my box is it’s all about “me”! In America most of us focus filling our box for us, and do not think twice about others. We consume our thoughts about what to buy next and what great trip we can take.   I am guilty of this crime by planning the ways to decorate my home and what car I want next. Rarely do we look for ways to help those that are hurting or just need a few dollars for medicine. We live shallow lives if it all about “us.”

It is hard to tame the monster inside each of us that desires for more. So, what do you do? What do you fill the box of your life with and why? Is being “safe” in your box and filling your box all there is to this life? At the end of my life I hope my box is empty from all that I gave. It does not matter how big or small, from the heart or from the wallet, seek to give out of your box in some way each day. For me life is more exciting when you give from the heart!

Leave a comment below how you have shared out of your box recently or in the past that brought that joy of giving glow to your face.    I can’t wait to hear your story!

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I want to know what is on your mind . . .

Take the very short 2 question survey to let me know what you would like to know more about. This will help me to develop my blog to be more useful for you.  Thank You in advance for your valuable input!

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