Friday, July 29, 2011

Strangers at Home

Take a moment to remember what it was like when you just met your spouse.  Unless you grew up together, there was a time when the two of you were strangers.  There was something intriguing about the other person, even if it wasn’t love at first sight.  As you met and got to know each other, you were careful with your words trying hard not to offend or make a fool of yourself.  In these first moments, even before the romantic relationship began you treated each other with kindness, dignity, and a mutual respect.

As the years pass and we get more comfortable with one another and in our marriage relationships there is a tendency to alienate all those things that we first applied to our relationship.  Now that you intimately know all the faults of your spouse it is easier to treat each other with less kindness and respect than you did when you first met them.  In fact, it is not uncommon to relate to your spouse in a way that is far less loving than when the two of you were strangers.

Here’s a thought… Why not revisit some of those initial feelings and ideas that you had about your fledgling relationship with your spouse.  You may not be trying to impress them as you first thought you had to, but you can certainly strive for the initial kindness that you had for them.  Often we hurt those that we are closest to by saying the most unkind and unloving things.  You would never say those same things to a stranger your just met?  Why not extend the same courtesy to your spouse? As we grow more accustomed to each other we should grow in mutual love and respect, not tear it down.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Crawling Fast

Just a couple of weeks ago my little boy, Caleb, took his first steps!  As a dad, I was elated!  In one day, it seemed as though he would leave crawling behind and embrace the world with just two feet.  However, over these past several days he has taken precious few steps.  Crawling is still his primary mode of transportation. 

This is because Caleb can crawl much faster than he can walk.  On two feet, he is wobbly and unstable.  On all fours, he is in command of his direction and can get almost anywhere at ground level quickly.  It is easier for him to go with what he knows, rather than to push himself to the next level.

We can be a lot like that sometimes.   When it comes to something new, innovative, and helpful we find ourselves challenged to learn.  Many times, we react with a strong desire to simply go with what we have always known instead.  After all, we are more proficient at what we have always done.  We can do the old way much faster.  At first, we may even believe that the old way will carry us much farther.  However with any lasting innovation, if we don’t get beyond the old way soon time will pass us by.

Think of it this way… A 9 month old crawling is darling.  A 19 year old crawling is disturbing.  You are meant to grow and progress.  God has gifted you with the ability to press through the learning curve to new heights of personal growth.  Don’t get left behind because of an unwillingness to try new things.  Don’t get caught crawling in a world that runs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Take the stairs!

Summer is one of our most favorite times of the year.  I don’t know about you, but for us, Family vacations, grilling out, and movie nights all encompass our summer routine.  We love to endulge in the always-delicious mouse-tracks ice cream, and fill our oven with scoops of the ever-ready pillsbury cookie-dough.  Yes, summer is a wonderful time of the year.

One of the hardest places, I find balance in during the summer, however, is managing some sort of “health routine” in the midst of these indulging snacks.  I love bringing fresh-baked cookies to the table, after we’ve finished our grilled turkey burgers for dinner, but my waist-line doesn’t seem to like these choices near as much.  It’s so hot outside during the day, that going for a run seems nearly impossible, unless we wait until the sun goes down, which more-often-than-not means we won’t go, leaving us feeling guilty, frustrated, and full.

A few years back Steve and I went on a cruise for vacation, and upon boarding the ship were given some brilliant advice.  Our first stop was to the gym on the boat (which I’ll go ahead and admit this was the one and only time during our cruise vacation that we visited this spot), and while there, one of the trainers gave us a great nugget of wisdom.  He told us to go ahead and enjoy every moment of soaking up the sun, indulging in the food, and lounging around…but to always take the stairs.  He said that being on a cruise we were bound to not loose any weight, unless we maintained an exercise regime and were strict on what we allowed to enter our mouths (which, let’s just face it, was NOT going to happen), but that we could limit the amount of weight we GAINED, by simply taking the stairs.  He went on to explain that many people take the elevators on the ship, which results in their exercise dimishing for the week or so that they’re on the boat.  They’ll wait for 10 minutes or more for the always-full elevator, and then once on the Lido Deck, head to the buffet where they’ll devour all 6 pieces of chocolate cake that they’re offered.  Once finished, they’ll head back to the elevator which will then wisk them away to their stateroom where they can take a nap.  Daily exercise total, once this is repeated 10 or more times a day: Zero.

The wisdom from the trainer was brilliant, because, while Steve and I didn’t find ourselves loosing any weight while on the boat, walking those 5-6 flights of stairs each time we wanted to find that pizza or ice cream station, meant burning many of the calories we were about to eat before they were ever placed in our mouths.

So, let’s assume that not everyone will be headed out to sea on a cruise ship this summer.  How does this trainer’s advice benefit you?  Simple.  “Take the stairs.”  Wherever you find yourself this summer, choose to take the “stairs.”  Whether that means while walking around the mall, you look for the stairs rather than the escalator to get to that second floor, do it.  Perhaps at church you take the stairs, rather than crowding the elevator to get to your bible study class.  Maybe, you even determine to “take the stairs” figuratively, and translate that into walking a little bit more each time you head to the grocery by parking at the back of the lot, rather than circling the parking lot until that front-row spot opens up. 

The bottom line is that I understand summer is busy.  You want to fill it with memory-making adventures, and not exercise routine’s.  So, make it simple. Resolve this summer to “take the stairs” every time you’re given the option, and come this fall, we’ll see where you find yourself.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Purpose-Driven Family

When was the last time you served, as a family, with efforts of benefiting the people around you?
When we lived in Virginia, there was one family that we knew that dumbfounded me with all of the ways that they worked to live life ON PURPOSE.  They went on mission trips together, served at soup kitchens together, and even did intentional (not “random”…but purposeful!) acts of service for those living closest to them – their neighbors.  It seemed that this family stopped at nothing to live their lives out as a blessing to others, and it got me thinking.  What if families across America operated the same way as our friends?  What if families lived out their day-to-day lives looking for ways to serve others?  What if, instead of choosing to live “service-oriented lives” independently, they worked as a unit (the one God already appointed in their home), and tried to intentionally serve those around them?   Not only would they accomplish the mission of serving the people in their own community, one that we can all agree is a mandate, but they would also accomplish the goal of raising up their children with an attitude of service, which may, in turn result in students and adults that live in a world where it’s not “all about them!”
So, how do you become this “Purpose-Driven Family?”  It’s not an overnight process, and is one that we’ll work on unpacking for weeks to come, but here are a few starting points, for your home-life ON MISSION, this week.

1.    Together, choose a Mission…and stick to it!
Together, as a family, pick a goal for your family to work toward.  Whether it’s serving an area at your church (yes, that may mean going to more than your usual 1 or 2 services so that you can volunteer in the preschool class that they’re desperately trying to fill), serving your neighbors (invite them over for dinner, bake some cookies and bring them to them), or serving the teachers at the school nearby (write them an encouraging note, create “care packages” for them on their first teacher work-day) work to find an avenue where your family can work TOGETHER to make a difference in someone else’s life.

2.     Pick a date on the calendar for your “Mission Day!”
Great ideas are created every day, but unfortunately they stay in their “great idea state” forever, because legs are never given to them.  Pull out the calendar (or calendars, if you have a super-busy family!), and pick a day where everyone can commit to be available.  Once it’s chosen, write your Mission Project on each person’s calendar…. in PEN!  That means, it’s not moved, changed, or scheduled over.  It’s a priority that everyone is committing to stick to.

3.     Pray for your project!
Great things can happen when you commit with your family to serve others.  Praying together allows each person to be available to whatever it is that God wants to use your family to accomplish through your mission project.  It may be as simple as having the open door to answering questions about “why” you chose to serve in the first place.  What an incredible opportunity to share with others about the great God that you serve, and the reason for the Hope in Him that you have!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Why the Disorganized Leader Never Wins

In his book The Next Generation Leader, Andy Stanley lays out a simple principle that helps us understand why disorganized leaders tend to lose the trust of their followers.  “Clarity is interpreted as leadership.”[1]  If the people you are entrusted to lead sense an unclear picture of the future, they will only follow you blindly for so long. 

Everyone likes to know where they going and how they are going to get there.  Disorganization screams to followers, “I may not be able to organize the small stuff, but trust me with the big stuff.”  It comes off as inconsistent to those that are paying any attention.  The state of your desk, your email inbox, your calendar, your meetings says more about your ability to lead than you might think.  Sure you can overcome these things, but why give anyone a reason to question your authority to begin with? 

I’m not talking about the occasional organizational blunder (we all have those).  This is about the chronically disorganized leader.  I have stood in your shoes.  I know the anxiety and trust issues that come from my own lack of organization.  Luckily, I have been blessed with people around me willing to confront me with the harsh reality of my disorganization.  They challenged me to make a change. 

Leadership is already hard enough.  Why make it more difficult by complicating your role with a mountain of disorganization? Here are a few tips to the leader that struggles with organizational skills…

1. Find A Program – Especially in a small organization or department, you will have to learn to be the best organizer on your team.  There are several programs out there to assist you in becoming organized.  Franklin Covey, Google Calendar and Tasks, Entourage, and many more tools are available to give you the necessary tools to get organized.  Get trained by someone that uses the program.  Commit to it!  Don’t let the program become a personal fad.  See it through until it becomes a habit.

2. Find A Person - If you already know that you are not the most organized person on your team, make sure that you find someone else who is.  Make finding an organized person your next hire or volunteer recruitment.  Build trust and clear communication with that person to ensure that they understand your vision.  Supervise them, but don’t micro-manage.  If you try to micro-manage your best organizer, they will become frustrated because their organizational skills eclipse yours.

3. Find A Purpose - The deeper issue for many people who are disorganized is a lack of  real purpose.  If you have no target, then there is no reason to organize in such a way to hit it.  You have to start with the purpose and then organize to achieve it.  Figure out your purpose so you can align personally and organizationally to see it through to completion.

Being organized may not make you a leader, but it certainly does enhance the leader’s ability to win and keep faithful followers.  What steps do you need to take to organize your personal leadership today?

[1] Stanley, Andy. The Next Generation Leader 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Push the Reset Button

 Growing up, the original Nintendo was a smash hit in our home. Mario could keep us entertained for hours. Rad Racer would keep me coming back for more.  If you played the now ancient gaming system then you remember there were only two buttons on the front of the console, “Power” and “Reset”.  To get the game going, you would press the “Power” button.  However, if things became a little too complicated in the game or there was a malfunction game itself you could push the “Reset” button and begin again with a clean slate.

We are really used pressing the “Power” button in life.  We get our schedules rolling, our appointments coming in, our tasks going out and busyness increases with each day.  Every now and again, things get so busy, so complicated, so overwhelming that it may be time to press the “Reset” button on life.  No… I’m not talking about taking a vacation or starting over in a new career.  Pressing the “Reset” button is all about bringing things back to a manageable pace.

Here are a few signs that you need to “Reset”…
  • People tell you they can’t email you something because your inbox is so full
  •  You are just coming off of a prolonged project that has caused you to put much of your day-to-day tasks on the back-burner.
  •  Anxiety is your reality when you think about what you have to get done.
  • Your family or your team notices that you appear burnt out.

If any of those describe you, it is time to press the “Reset” button.  It may seem like a time waster at first, but in the end you will be more productive.  Here’s how you do it…

  1. Shut The Door – Yes I realize this flies in the face of relationships, but you will need concentrated time here.  You can keep to door open 360 out of 365 days a year, but you need this time.  So ask a friend to watch the kids or tell your assistant that you need some space.  
  2. Clear Your Communications – Get as many emails answered, calls returned, and snail mail replied to as possible.  If people are not waiting for an answer from you, they are less likely to continue to apply pressure to you.
  3.   Plan Your Attack – Spend some time with your calendar and your task list and plan out how you will achieve the things you need to get done.  Don’t get caught in the trap of getting so overwhelmed with what you are writing down that you begin doing it.  The most highly productive people in life are planners!  Spend some time looking at how you will get done what you need to get done by setting a timeline and a flow of  daily tasks.

Once you have taken the morning, afternoon, or entire day to do this it is time to work your plan.  Start as soon as possible and stick to it.  Because you pushed the “Reset” button you will feel confident that you can get it done and you will reach the goal of getting to a more manageable pace.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Envelopes are Good for MORE than mailing letters!

When I was a little girl, my mom put me on her “envelope system.”  Long before Dave Ramsey or Susie Orman came along with their money philosophies, my mom had hers.  Every time I would come home with money (whether from a lemonade stand in the front yard, or cash from babysitting the kids across the street), she made me put it immediately in my “envelopes.”  I used to hate organizing my earnings that way, but even to this day, I find myself organizing our paychecks into separate “categories”…. similar to the envelopes I used years ago!

The envelope categories I used as a little girl were as follows:

Tithe - 10%
God’s word tells us specifically to set aside 10% of what we make to give back to Him.  When you think of it carefully, it really is obvious that without His influence in our lives, and without His provincial leading, we really wouldn’t have a job to earn money in the first place, so it only makes sense to give the first part of our money back, as a happy Thank you, to Him.  It hurts my heart to think of the churches today that are floundering simply because their members are not following a simple commandment given to us in Scripture.   Psalms 24:1 says, "The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains…"
and then again in scripture, we find Paul asking, "And what do you have that you did not receive?" 1 Corinthians 4:7.  Remember, the money belongs to God anyway…so we really need to give it back to him FIRST.

Bank – 50%
Half of all of the money I made went straight to the bank into savings.  I used to hate this element especially, because I would have to work twice as hard before I could buy the things I wanted, and HALF of all of the money I was making would go into what I thought was an empty hole called the bank.  Needless to say, when it came time to pay for college years later, I was EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that this “empty hole” was waiting for me!

FUN! – 40%
This envelope was my “left-over” money.  This was the money I could use to go see a movie with friends, buy that Barbie-doll I wanted so badly, or treat my Grandma to a blizzard at Dairy Queen on a hot summer day!  This was my favorite category (obviously!), and this was the envelope I used to buy the things I really wanted, because I had to work so hard to get money into that envelope.  This envelope taught me about waiting for the things I really wanted, rather than buying the things that intrigued me and screamed at me to buy them when I walked past a store shelf!

Today, the “envelopes” in our home look a little bit different, and the percentages aren’t even close to the same as they once were.  We still do have a “Bank/Saving’s” element, as well as a “Tithe” and “Fun” element to our monthly budget, but there are quite a few others that we’ve added.   “Groceries”, “Eating Out”, “Date Nights”, and standard “Monthly Bills” just to name a few!

Here’s my challenge to you for the week:  Sit down as a family and map out your monthly income into categories.  (Remember!  Don’t add money you don’t already have!)  Start with your tithe, and then the things that are  unchanging.  (That monthly mortgage, groceries, and electric bill!)  Then, set aside what’s left into still important, but less mandating “envelopes.”  (Eating out, Dates, and Fun!)  Last, but not least, STICK TO IT!  It’s easy to take some time to develop a plan, but it’s a whole different thing, sticking to your plan.  Commit your family in the next 3 months, to try living out this strategy.  By the end of these 90 days, if you’re not in a better financial state for it, then I give you complete permission to give it up without any guilt….but I bet you’ll be surprised, where you find yourself at!

Monday, July 18, 2011

There IS an App for That!

 Technology is advancing everyday.  Every once and a while, it can help you advance toward your health goals.  One of the greatest tools I used in my weight loss journey was an iPhone App called “Calorie Counter by Fat Secret”

Here are the features I found most helpful…

·      Obviously… The Calorie Counter – You begin by choosing your goal: Weight loss, Slow Weight loss, Maintaining a Healthy Weight.  Based upon your height and level of activity it tells your daily calorie quota.  It provides a Food Diary for you to track your calories quickly and easily.  The home page of the App tells you where you are at for the day and how many more calories you have left.

·      Eating On-The-Go – This App has a database full of the most popular restaurants across the nation.  Simply search the restaurant, choose the menu item, and it will give you nutritional details.  Save the menu item and it uploads it to your good dairy allowing you to continue to track your calories.

·      The Scanner – The UPC scanner provided by the App recognizes most brands.  This is great when you are cooking/eating at home.  Simply scan the item and then save it to upload the calorie count into your food diary.

·      Saved Meals – If you are a creature of habit in what you eat, your can save your favorite meals under “Saved Meals” and quickly add them to your Food Diary.

·      The Weigh-In – You can track your weigh-ins to see how much progress you are making toward your goal.

·      And So Much More… - While planning your meals, you have the opportunity to search supermarket brands and recipes to see how they could fit into your calorie counts for the day.  It’s all provided under Quick Picks section.  There is even more to explore once you download the App.

·      Calorie Counter by Fat Secret is FREE!

As many of you know, calorie counting is essential if you plan on hitting your weight-loss goal.  This App makes it easy. There are a lot of counters out there and I have tried many of them. I can personally testify to this one’s user-friendly interface and effectiveness in my own journey.  Use it and allow technology to help you attain your goal!

Friday, July 15, 2011


Do you ever feel like you just don’t have time to build on your family?  Your time together is so rare, because people are always coming and going? 
I sat down the other day, to watch a few minutes of TV while I waited for company to arrive at our home, and Leave it to Beaver was airing.  I was dumbfounded to see this family sitting around the dinner table, and June Cleaver serving them a meal that it appeared she had spent hours slaving over to prepare.  Years ago that may have been easy, (doubtful, but she sure makes it look that way!), but today, in all honesty, our family looks nothing like that!  There are MANY days where Steve gets home from work only to find our house looking like a Fischer price hurricane just hit, and his “lovely wife” appearing worn out with no make-up on and my outfit covered in vomit from a recent explosion!  I am far from the incredibly together, and beautiful kept “June Cleaver” I once dreamed of being.  Dinner is not even close to making it into the oven, as it most days, is still carefully sitting in the freezer, wrapped in the same package I bought it in at Kroger, days before.  Steve walks in and sweeps up our little boy into his arms and I race into the kitchen to see what I can conjure up in 15 minutes or less for dinner that has some sort of nutritional value and that tastes more than mediocre.  (Even as I writing this I just ran to the freezer to pull out chicken for dinner tonight…. thanks for helping me think ahead!)
Life is busy in our home, and from talking to most of our friends; life is busy in every home.  Maybe your home doesn’t look as wild as ours absolutely does, but perhaps you still struggle with finding quality time to spend with your family like we do.

I grew up in a home where F.F.F. was mandated on a regular basis.  What is F.F.F., you may be asking?  Forced Family Fun.  My brother, sister and I, along with our parents, would spend a day, an evening, or a few hours together doing something that at least one member of our family coined as “fun.”  (I say “at least one member” because there were several times when the “fun activity” was not exactly what I would consider fun.  I’m specifically remembering a full day of watching the Lord of the Rings Trilogy…. the extended version.  Fun to someone (not mentioning names), but not to me!) J
I wasn’t always wild at the idea, but looking back I have MANY memories with my family where we laughed and spent QUALITY time together, because of these F.F.F. times.  This, in-turn, caused us to be an incredibly tight-knit group, one in which we’re all great friends, and choose to be around each other, if given the choice, today!

In our home, we try to instill F.F.F. every week.  Right now, F.F.F. is any easy thing to incorporate every week…mainly because Caleb (our 11 month old) really has no opinion.  “Fun” equals whatever Steve and I want to do, which really makes it not so “forced”.  However, I’ve seen the value of F.F.F., and so our goal is to ensure that we spend quality time with our entire family at least once a week, no matter how old they get.  Whether this F.F.F. is a simple dinner we all spend around our table with the TV OFF, or an afternoon at the park with a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream in tow, it will be a mandatory element to our week.

I challenge you to do the same!  Start this week by incorporating F.F.F. into your family routine! It doesn’t have to be a day-long Lord of the Rings trilogy extravaganza (please, for the females in your family like me, I implore you NOT to do that to them!), but try by starting with a simple night of the week in which you eat a meal together at home with no cell phones, TV, or other distractions in place.  You can do it!  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dangerous Assumptions

You have probably heard it or said it in the last week.  “I just assumed…”  This is one of the easiest, yet most destructive phrases to the teamwork dynamic in leadership.  If you have ever assumed something from someone else, you know what it is like to be let down.  If your leader has ever assumed something from you, then you know what it is like to feel “in the dark.”  Assumptions about your team members, their tasks, and timelines can wreak havoc on the team’s ability to function.  Here’s why:

1. Assumptions Kill Clarity.  Assumptions can quickly take the place of communication on the team.  Without communication clarity gets lost.  Team members are left thinking that they are accomplishing what the leader desires or what is best for the mission.  All the while, they are heading in the wrong direction.  Clarity demands communication.  Assumptions are the opposite of communication.

2. Assumptions Betray Trust.  When we assume things about another individual, we feel betrayed when these things turn out to be untrue.  Conversely, when other people assume things about you, you may feel betrayed by their lack of thoughtful consideration.  In order to foster trust on a team, you actually have to get to know the other person rather than assuming that you have already figured out them and their assignments.

3. Assumptions Stop Progress. Assuming something will get done is not the same as actually seeing it get accomplished.  Leaders that make assumptions about their teams often get burned in the boardroom.  Progress means making sure the desired outcome is actually on track to happen rather assuming.  Assumptions have the potential to train-wreck your team’s ability to be productive.

When it comes to the meeting, the presentation, or the event make sure that assumptions are not the preventable handicap that your team will have to overcome.  This does not give you a license to be a micro-managing leader.  Trust your team, but track their progress through clear communication.  Strive for clarity in communication in every meeting and conversation.  It will save you a lot of time and heart-ache.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Attitude Check?!?!

Do you ever feel like everything around you is just NOT going your way?  It’s usually on Mondays that I feel that way.  On Mondays, Caleb’s routine is almost always off, because we spent the day before at church.  He completely refuses to take naps like he should, which then puts me into a tailspin toward a whiny, fussy morning, and Caleb has a hard day too.
It’s Mondays where I usually forget to brush my teeth until about 2:00 in the afternoon, and on Mondays that I typically end up changing into 3 different outfits during the day because I’ve had all kinds of bodily “things” launched at me.  By about 3:00 I’m completely spent, and it’s everything I can do to chase Caleb as he tries to climb up the stairs once more, and “shush” our dog as he barks at the mailman outside our door.  When Steve walks in around 6:00pm on Mondays it’s all I can do not to climb into bed by 6:30pm.  It’s on Monday’s where I find myself, most regularly, at my “wit’s end” and where I end up frustrated with Steve before he ever walks in the door, at something he usually didn’t even do. 
Have you ever been there?

A little while back I realized that my attitude was putting a damper on the rest of my family.  Caleb was more upset because I was upset, and Steve was walking on egg-shells around me when he came home, making our time together in the evening, basically worthless.  It was during this “a-ha moment” that I realized that my attitude defined the rest of my family’s attitudes, and if I wanted them to be nice to me, I first, needed to be nice to them.

It’s on that day, that I started implementing a wise phrase that I learned years ago:  "Attitude Check?!"    Whenever my attitude is grumpy, or I find myself knit picking at anyone else, I call out my own self, demanding an attitude adjustment.  Typically, if I can catch myself early enough in the day, my day, overall, will be far more bearable.  I’ll (usually) have a smile on my face when Steve walks in the door, and although I may be worn out, my desire to find the positive elements of my day, when recapping them to Steve at dinner, will be far more productive!
So, how’s your day going?  Do you need an Attitude Check?! 
Start this morning, and just see if you have a better day!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Bottomless Pit!

Time and time again we run into families who pose the question, “How do you ever get out of all of this debt?!”  They are frantic, frustrated, and can’t seem to dig themselves out of the pit that has engulfed their lives.  They feel as though they are constantly treading water, and cannot make any real headway in the financial status of their marriage, family and overall life.

Since we were married years ago, and for me even before that, I found that the answer to that question really was simple.  Before I tell you, I want to give the caveat that I don’t promise it to be profound by any means.   I know you’re going to read this, and say….”Yes, Beth.  That is obvious” and you may even laugh and discount me altogether because of it.  I know it’s a simple truth, but the hard fact of it is that most people don’t follow the secret.  Wanna know the secret? 
Here it is
Don’t spend more than you have.

I know it sounds obvious, and you’re probably thinking that I’m not nuts and you may have even stopped reading.  But hear me out on this one
If you don’t ever spend more money than you have, then it will be impossible for you to find yourself in debt….ever!  
If you find yourself shelling out hundreds of dollars each year toward an interest payment of a credit card or loan that helped you buy something you really couldn’t ever afford in the first place, you’re deciding to throw money away every year….hundreds of dollars worth!  The first step you’ve got to take, if you’re ever going to make any headway toward reaching Financial success is getting yourself out of debt!

Please don’t misunderstand me when I say that you’re always wasting your money.  I do understand that some debt is inevitable to a point.  When we were married, we took out a mortgage on our first house, and still, to this day, are paying toward that loan month after month as the value of our home has recently plummeted.  Our goal is to have it paid off as soon as possible, but buying a home was the best option for us at the time. 

The goal from this point forward, for our family and I hope for yours however, is to commit to not take out any more debt.  That means that if you don’t have the money today, for that Starbucks cup of coffee on the way to work, then don’t buy it.  Bring a cup of Kroger-brand French Vanilla coffee in your carafe to work instead.  Or if you are about to book that all-inclusive cruise vacation you “deserve because you’ve worked so hard this year” then don’t book it.  Cash in all of those points that I hope you’ve at least earned off of your credit card that you’ve used so often and take a vacation by traveling (by car!) to the nicest hotel with a complimentary breakfast that you can use your points (ONLY!) for, and pack lunches to store in your hotel room fridge that you can indulge in each day.  Your frivolous spending can be a nice dinner each night, so instead of spending upwards of a thousand (or more!) dollars on your vacation, you can get away with spending less than $300!!  The bottom line is that if you have to use a credit card to be able to pay for that vacation because you just don’t have the money “right now”, or for that couch that “you really need” then don’t buy it.  Simple as that.  If you’re constantly allowing yourself to “splurge” then you’ll never catch up to all of the “splurging” and really it won’t become “splurging” anymore….it will just become your everyday “life.”

I challenge you, this next week to take a hard look at your finances and resolve in your mind to buy only the things you NEED.  Not want, but need.  That means groceries to eat (not fast food), gas to get to work, church, etc., and no extra’s.  Don’t whip out that credit card even once this next week, and just see how far you get.  I’ll bet you’ll be surprised by all of the extra “money” you find that you really have laying around that you can start using to chip away at those absurd credit card debts that are hanging over you!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Two Motivating Questions...

 Just five short years ago I (Steve) was about to get married to the love of my life.  Each day I hit the gym trying to look good for the BIG day.  At the time, I was earning just above minimum wage so there was not a lot of temptation to buy up junk food or swing by a fast food restaurant.

Fast forward four years later… I had a beautiful wife, a son-on-the-way and 20+ extra pounds!  That may not seem like much to some reading this, but at more than a 5 lb. weight gain each year I was already over-weight and heading for the heartache of obesity soon, if something didn’t change. Through a series of circumstances, I became aware that I needed a new outlook on my eating and exercise habits.

Now, I have taken off every pound and have maintained a much healthier lifestyle.  There have been several keys to the journey that I’ll be sharing in upcoming posts.  Today, I want to share two key motivators that kept me going.  These two questions are hard, but powerful.  Perhaps they can help you as well!

1. Where will I be in a few years if I keep heading this way?  You are on a path of your own choosing.  Outside of the uncontrollable factors of disease and genetic disorders, your choices about what you eat and your level of activity are determining the future that will become your children and grandchildren’s reality. When it comes to your weight and health, where is your path taking you?

2. What opportunities will I miss if I don’t choose to be healthy today?  It could be playing with your kids.  It might be falling in love.  It may even be years of life.  When you say yes to unhealthy living, you may be saying no to a lot of good opportunities in life.  Ask yourself, what doors am I closing by living an unhealthy lifestyle? 

The path to a healthier you is through facing the hard reality of your present life.  Let your present discontentment be a positive motivator for change!