Financial Peace

Financial Peace University Membership Kit (Financial Peace University)

Proverbs 13:16, “A wise man thinks ahead; a fool doesn’t, and even brags about it!”

For most of my young life, I have been a free spirited spender. Money came and went with open hands. I rarely paid attention to my bank account and if I was in the positive, I had a good month. I bought my first home when I was twenty-four not because I had planned well but because I was blessed with a decent job and was able to afford a house payment (yes, I was house poor!). I rarely looked forward and focused on my financial future, I just lived. As Dave Ramsey says, “I lived like Gomer Pyle”. Gomer is bubbly but often depicted as a fool. I didn’t want to be a fool. I wanted to be wise and I wanted a future so I made a choice.

When Jason and I married we immediately enrolled in Dave Ramsey’s, Financial Peace University course. We spent thirteen weeks learning about money, talking about money and changing our lifestyle. When we started the course our goal was simple: merge bank accounts; to make a commitment to one another to work on the same goals. Like many things, God’s plan is always bigger and we ended up transformed.

For our family, financial peace gave us a neutral territory to discuss and plan for our future. It bred in us ideas that are counter-cultural but that offer a safe alternative to living. We are focused on digging out of debt and learning to make money work for us instead of always working for money. At the end of the month, we know there will be money in the account. It helped us set boundaries to avoid over indulgence but also to allocate for things we care about (UK athletics for example). For me, it gave me an account that I could spend money without feeling guilty. For Jason, it gave him peace of mind because he knows he is able to take care of his family (yes, he’s the nerd).

As a young wife, I think it’s critical that we set our marriage on solid ground. I think it is important to walk in agreement with one another and work towards common goals. For us, that meant getting the money thing right. Boy, I’m so glad we did! I am now a better steward of the money God has entrusted our family with and am working on making steps towards a brighter future. It’s a beautiful thing.

Measure of Worth

“Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, width or quantity.”
Leviticus 19:35
The measure of who I am is not set on the standard of man but on sound words. Our culture is filled with  standards that do not measure up to the word of God. They measure length based on the number of zeros in your bank account, width by the size of your waist and quantity by the number of frequent flyer miles you have. 
Beth Moore explained at the Deeper Still conference that, “this culture keeps passions awake. Control your passions or you will be in a deep pit.” Sisters, we are beaten down by the images and words that are fed to us daily by TV, magazines, and Hollywood. We are comparing ourselves to those who cannot and will not save us, protect us or love us unconditionally the way our Father can. When we define our value and how good we are based on these things, we turn our eyes away from the Lord and use dishonest standards to guide us.  This is not only destructive but it separates us from God. 
Our Father calls us to a higher standard of living. To a place where Hollywood is not the image of success, wealth or fame. He calls us to dig out of that pit and live in victory, friends. Our society is so crazed that we are corrupt and distorted in our reality. For example, I heard that Reese Witherspoon made the following statement at the MTV Movie Awards:
“I know it’s cool to be bad; I get it. But it’s also possible to make it in Hollywood without a reality show”
– Reese Witherspoon
It’s easy to measure worth by the ratings of your reality show or by the number of times you are on Perez Hilton’s blog; it’s cool to be bad; I get it. For a regular woman/wife, without a Hollywood income or the limelight, how do we measure our worth? Do we measure it by the way we decorate our home, by the amount of dust on our entertainment center, by the cuisine we prepare nightly or by the number of friends we have on facebook? What do we do that is “cool” but doesn’t bring glory to God?

I’m sick of trying to be something I am not for the spectators of this world. I’m sick of feeling insecure and let down… I’m sick of my own reality show! Girlfriend, it’s not cool to be bad… it’s lame and creates such undue burden on your life. It’s cool to be a servant of something bigger than yourself; to be filled with the spirit and be whole.

I’ll never know what it feels like to be called out by your peers in Hollywood, but I do know what it feels like to be called out by my Jesus. He reminds us, that by his standards we are made in his own image…and he does not make mistakes!

Guest Blogger: Sovereign Hands

My little sister, Meg is so beautiful. She has been beautifully crafted by our maker! Meg is my most precious friend and biggest cheerleader! She can speak the words of life into any situation and has transformed her life in ways that I cannot explain. She sent me this e-mail and I thought it was too beautiful not to share.

Sovereign Hands

– One possessing or held to posses supreme political power or sovereignty.
– One that exercises supreme authority with in a limited sphere. ( I just want to add to this, the limited sphere is enlarged when we allow our God who is the sphere to enlarge the capacity of our heart to receive His fullness.) AMAZING!

My Lord and Savior alone possesses Sovereign hands. Only in Him do I rest assured, releasing all control and my ability to possess anything alone –  I trust in his unlimited ability; the merit that releases love.

Falling deeper into the hands that grasp me close, lift me up, brush off my tears, wipes away my chaos –  restoring my mind, filled with power, apprehending my weakness, enhances my understanding, enlarging my vision…. secure in His aroma, I sit upon the lap of victory and simply; breathe.

It is my hearts desire everyday to earnestly run towards His outstretched hands, yet so many things or should I say distractions try to prevent me. Pushing aside the testing of my faith, the pain that comes with looking into the mirror of a shortcoming, its Him without compare that somehow His divine perfection shifts my eyes from the natural, into a sphere that can only be felt.

Here I rest. Here I recognize, I am not meant to be anyone other than an exact image of Him. Crazed and amazed, I believe. An image of love, I’m chosen to be.

Past, Present and the fear of potential hurts try to distort my perception of this everlasting love. A love that I could never work to repay, A love that loves beyond my ability to receive – persistent in His pursuit for my heart and my attention, He destroys the wickedness of my unbelief and in royalty sweeps me away. Softly whispers, “My daughter with these hands I have molded, delicately fashioned, and eloquently designed you, my masterpiece.”

Marital Bliss- Year One

Jason and I celebrated one year of marriage yesterday. In celebration, we bought small gifts for one another and had Bellini’s (an Italian restaurant downtown Lexington). We made sure we embraced the tradition of the one year mark by having a bite of our wedding cake and buying gifts centered around the “paper” theme (Mr & Mrs journal and coupon book–a Dayspring item)….and I received hanging flowers for our porch! Hooray!

In spirit of our anniversary, I’d like to share with you the top three things I’ve learned from one year of marriage:

1. Perception: Before marriage, I only knew what it meant to be married…but no clue how to be married. I lived in a fantasy where all sorts of mis-truths formed in my little pea brain and made it seem like this whole journey would be easy breezy! Marriage is beautiful and magnificent but not easy! 

2. Response: I think it’s fair to say that I have a smart mouth, I’m filled with sass and delight in rolling my eyes. I realize that my responses whether verbal or non-verbal can bring life or death to situations. I have the ability to lift up or shut down with a simple eye roll. This lesson has been incredibly valuable and the overflow has been helpful in every area of my life. 

3. Communicate: When trying to get two different people to do the same thing, you have to talk, talk and talk some more. Jason is the head of our household but he values my ideas and thoughts on all areas of our life. If he makes a bone head move, he needs and deserves to be lovingly redirected. On the other hand, if I have a selfish temper tantrum, I need and deserve a loving reminder that I am not the center of the universe. Nothing good comes from suppressing your thoughts, triumphs or hurts. You’ve got to get it out! Each person needs to know when they’ve done something really good (keep doing that!) and when they done something that needs improvement (please stop doing that!).

I love being married and I have the most amazing husband! He is selfless and precious beyond measure. He does housework, he listens to me and works so hard for our family. Over the last year, I’ve realized that the little hiccups in marriage have little to do about the other person but more to do with how you perceive, respond and communicate. I’m learning that while in theory those items seem easy, action is sometimes quite challenging. Thankfully, until I get it right, Jason is always eager to extend a little grace. 

Breathing Space

2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. 
The old has gone, the new is here!”

I am addicted to chaos. I am addicted to complaining about my schedule that is chalked full of things that I am not required to do, called to do or even spiritually challenged to do. I idolize my calendar. I do not complete all my tasks with joy because I overdo life. I do not spend time focusing on priorities. I am a stressed out and sick of spinning my wheels.

I am abundantly blessed with a beautiful life! I want to enjoy the blessings that I have been given. I want a chance to BREATH! I want a chance to praise God for what he has done on my behalf. I cannot do any of that without creating breathing space.

For a long time, I have been struggling with this area of my life. I know that spiritually I have been called to change but the world says, “Everyone is like this, Heather.” My efforts to ignore God and continue on a destructive path were halted this weekend when Priscilla Shirer delivered a message at the Deeper Still Event in Louisville. It shook me so deeply I could not ignore the mandate from God anymore.

Christ promises us that if we are in him that the old has gone and the new is here! It is with that promise that I will begin living in a new way. Here’s how:

1.  One night each week, I am carving out my own personal Shabbat or cessation. I will use that time each week to pray that my inclination to overdo will be removed, thank him for the blessings of the previous week and nurture myself back to a healthy lifestyle.

2. I will clear 14 minutes of each day to give him praise and recall all of the things he has done on my behalf.

3. I will clear 14 inches of space two times this week. (Think linen closet, desk, etc). A clear environment free from excess will help to create a visual reminder of the freedom busyness and clutter.

My prayer is that during this season of life that the Lord transforms my mindset so that I may live a more enriched life and have the freedom to enjoy the gifts that he has so generously given me.