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The First Step to Managing Your Money Better

The First Step to Managing Your Money Better

If we look at the scope of life there’s a few mainstay pillars that are consistent in individuals. These pillars are areas most of us focus on or which impact us greatly. I would categorize them like this:

  1. Spiritual

  2. Family

  3. Career

  4. Finances

  5. Health

I’m willing to bet that every decision you make (good or bad) on a daily basis has one of these five pillars in mind. The lifestyle we live, the clothes we where, the jobs we work, and the values we have are all by-products that show how these five areas are progressing in our lives.

With a new year always comes new goals. There’s a good chance you have a goal pertaining to one of these five pillars:

  • I want to go to church a couple of times this year. I want to learn more about what follows this life.

  • I want to start a family or take a next step in a personal relationship.

  • I want to earn a promotion, change jobs, etc.

  • I want to go to the gym or simply stop drinking soda.

  • I want to handle my money better.

Each goal will differ per person, yet the reality is the same. The only way you and I will attain any goals if by self-discipline. If I want to grow closer to God, I have to read His Word and talk to Him. If I want to become physically fit, I need to go to the gym.

If you want to manage you money better, you need a budget. There’s no other way around it. If you ever thought one word could instill fear in an individual — then you found it with the b-word.

In my experience, most people are intimidated by budgeting simply because it appears as a difficult undertaking. Budgeting is a process.

The first step is simply figuring out where your money is going. An effective budget tells your money where to go, so it’s imperative to layout all income and expenses.

The Storm is Never Larger than a Supernatural God

The Storm is Never Larger than a Supernatural God

Some days, life can be as crazy as standing in the middle of a hurricane and watching as things fly by. On others it can be as calm as sitting on a beach and listening to the peacefulness of the waves.

Whether someone is begging for the hurricane to be over or soaking in the stillness of the beach – JESUS is present.

This particular Saturday afternoon was one that lands, somewhat, in a place that seemed close to the madness of a storm. At the time, I was sitting in this random room in a church, and it was as if I was aching for peace. 

There were empty light brown metal chairs everywhere in the room. I observed my surroundings as a sea of teenagers barged in from outside. They separated into every direction. Whispers filled the little room as we waited for the evening to start. 

With my family in ministry and growing up in church, I had been to many of these church gatherings before.

… so I told myself that it was going to be just like the rest of them.

I found my seat next to some friends and fell into small conversation. As I became uninterested in the girls’ discussion minutes later, I began to focus on the soft background music.

I recognized the song and as it played through my head, my friend leaned over and told me how excited she was. I began to that maybe, just maybe, this one would be different than the others, but my mind instantly shook the thought away.

Shortly after, the music began to die down and a man walked to the front of the stage. His walk seemed like it was slow-motion, and I could feel the atmosphere heighten as the room grew quieter.

The man introduced himself as the youth pastor and welcomed everyone. I scrambled in my seat to get a better look at the pastor and the many other people that filled the room.

He passionately spoke about how much God loves every single one us and I somehow felt like he was talking directly to me. I got this calming feeling as I intensely listened to him talk about how great God is (I mean who wouldn’t). 

I suddenly started feeling slightly uncomfortable in my seat.

In a way I know the Lord is trying to speak to me in this exact moment, but as I look at my friends, I can read their blank expressions.

The music began to softly play behind the pastor’s words; as he began to close his message, his words started to pull me back in. Then he asked us to stand.

As I found a good position to see over the crowd in front of me, the pastor made direct eye contact with me. I got a warm chill through my body.

In a split second, it seemed like time stood  s t i l l.

5 Seconds And 10 Words That Wrecked My Life

5 Seconds And 10 Words That Wrecked My Life

I was not familiar with the name Nettie Cooper before April 23, 2018. I’ve still yet to have the chance of meeting her. I’ll be as honest to say that at this point I may not recognize her even if we were standing in the same room together.

Though her face and physical stature stood only briefly in my memory, her chosen words that filled a crowded sanctuary on that April evening are immovable and inerasable.

It was the first night of the 2018 Louisiana District Council for Assemblies of God ministers. Nostalgia was the guest of choice in the room as the District’s campground was the host location for the annual meeting.

Generations were united. Though some decades apart in age, Baby Boomers and Gen Z’s alike could walk along the same path and both say with gratefulness, “This is where I experienced the Lord.”

A proud companion to Nostalgia goes by the name of Honor.

One certainly makes for a sore celebration guest without the other. In fact, the only thing that makes Nostalgia so pleasant is its paired attention with Honor. Pleasant and powerful feelings of the past only continue when we can identify and attribute the source that brought about those moments to begin with.

Honor was certainly in attendance with us that night. Firstly, honoring and praising God – the ultimate source -- and then honoring each other. This is how I came to hear from Sister Nettie Cooper.

No, You Don't Need More Money

No, You Don't Need More Money

If your boss offered you a raise you wouldn't look at her and say, "Nah, I'm good. I really don't need any more money."

Instead, the second the "r" word echoed off her lips you would immediately think about whether or not it is socially acceptable to break out in your favorite dance moves.

Raises, promotion, and an increase to your good ole' wallet is something all hard-working employees desire. Our happiness and livelihood can unfortunately come to depend solely on the chase of the elusive dollar. We prove it by our constant go to saying -- "If only I had more money..."

I literally felt that collective pause in your breathe when you read that! Hey, at some point in our lives we've all said it.

We have even justified our financial lack to why we couldn't do things. 

"I don't have enough money to pay off my debt."

"I don't have enough money to go on vacation."

"I don't have enough money to start a retirement fund or save."

So, we work hard and patiently wait for more. Naturally, the more we have the better we'll be ... right? 

Not so fast. 

Our financial journey has been a big part of our lives. We recently wrote about it. I never woke up one day and decided I would passionately protect and handle my finances. It didn't say, "intense budgeter" as my future life aspirations in the my high school yearbook.

Instead, it happened naturally. I received my first paycheck of $180 and opened up Microsoft Word and told the $180 how I wanted it to be broken down. The same system I do today. It's the same system that attributed to us paying off over $70,000 in debt in 4.5 years. 

I've had the experience to meet with a lot of individuals on budgeting. It's likely the top reason people pursue to meet with me -- yes, even over other pastoral engagements. Throughout the many money-centered conversations, there's always one resounding statement: "If only I had more money..."

However, more money doesn't necessarily change anything. In fact, let's talk about a few myths.

My Miracle: God Did What WebMD Couldn't

My Miracle: God Did What WebMD Couldn't

Nothing felt abnormal or different when I woke up. I did what I do every Tuesday morning. I grabbed my phone off the stand and checked the time. I begrudgingly sat up, perched on the edge of the bed with my feet dangled for a few minutes.

Moments later I made my way to the bathroom in a morning state that only my husband has the pleasure of witnessing, messy bun high and stray hairs wild. What I saw looking back at me was anything but normal though, not because of a hard night’s rest or a backwards sleep shirt.

No, what I saw in the reflection could only be viewed from a one-sided perspective. That’s because my left eye was swollen shut, and it wasn’t like that when I went to sleep.

Taking my dramatic introduction to this story aside, I did feel quite a bit of panic. My assumption is most people would experience a normal amount of concern at such an unexpected sight. Mine escalated for selfish but human reasons though.

It was Tuesday. My firstborn’s baby shower was scheduled for Saturday, an occasion sure to be well documented visually for years to come. All I could repeatedly think was “Dear God, I cannot look like this by Saturday.” (Take me as vain or relate to me as normal. I’m just being honest!)

My unofficial experience and training from WebMD and Google took over. I assumed a doctor’s visit was pointless because I’m limited in what can be given to me in almost my third trimester (this was later confirmed in a last ditch effort of an ER visit. They couldn’t offer me anything to help).

The next few hours were easily filled with anything therapeutic in my pantry or fridge ending up on my face (ice, honey, cucumber, etc.) while I practiced the art of sleuthing, mentally revisiting ever action I had taken over the last few days that led to this point.

What I had once thought were infected mosquito bites days prior was soon deduced to instead be a severe case of exposure to poison sumac – poison ivy and poison oak’s lesser known ugly brother-cousin.

What could have been contained to a normal bought of exposure grew continuously for four days simply because 1) I didn’t realize I had touched it and 2) I proceeded to do laundry… on my bed… right after gardening instead of showering. In short, I was using towels and sleeping in sheets for four nights that had the plant’s oil all over it.

Fun fact I learned through this process: Clearly I’m allergic to the poisonous trifecta. Clearly my husband is not. #imnotbitter