What are you doing with first fruits?

Sunrise on the first Sunday of 2013

Sunrise on the first Sunday of 2013

This picture is the visual image of my morning drive to attend church on the first Sunday of 2013. Funny thing is that I overslept my alarm clock that morning and was rushing to get ready and left the house a little ticked at being late and starting off scattered. And that feeling lasted until I stopped looking at the inconveniences and looked up into the morning sky. I saw one of the most beautiful sunrises that stopped me in my tracks. The morning sunrise reminded me of God’s beauty and all the possibilities of new beginnings.  And as if that were not enough, when I got to church the message from the pulpit spoke of first fruits and giving back to God that which belongs to Him.

So here is the challenge I made to myself, and one that I now share with you. Today is your opportunity to commit (or recommit) to yourself that right now is the beginning of a new level of dedication to being a good steward of what you have been blessed with, and surely give the first fruits of blessings to Him. Be creative in your understanding of your blessings.  Some are financial, but they don’t stop there.  This is about more than money.  Some are spiritual. Some are physical. Some are natural talents. And others can be relational. So look in each of these areas to identify your blessings, and find a way to give back the best part of it as a dedicated gift to God (the One who blessed you with the gift in the first place).

Mal 3:10

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Love it! Great way to change your thinking and outlook for a new year! New beginnings! New decisions! New paths to walk! New joys to discover! It only happens when you are looking forward and not backward!

2012 Video Year in Review

2012 Video Flash

See the video attached by clicking the link above. It goes so fast, almost as quickly as 2012 passed by. The world is so much bigger than one person’s individual experience! Share in the triumphs of our brothers and sisters around the world.

Happy New Year! Welcome 2013!

Happy New Year!  Welcome 2013!

However you brought in the ringing of the new year last night, look up, it is a new day. The sun is shining and you are blessed to see another day and another new year. Yesterday is gone and forever done. Today is here and a new opportunity to walk in the purpose God has placed in your heart. Let’s make 2013 a year of purpose, a year of living out your passion and doing something meaningful. Think about it, what can you do to be a blessing to someone else today? Look for a way to make your creator smile!

More Blessed To Give Than To Receive

“More blessed to give than to receive”. When I was a kid, I never understood what that meant. I used to think that was something that parents just told you, but didn’t really mean, like “this is going to hurt me more than it is going to hurt you” as they were spanking you for doing something you knew was wrong. As a kid, I had zero responsibilities or financial cares, and even though we were never what anyone would call rich, we weren’t going hungry or wondering where our next meal was coming from. My parents both worked and provided a nice lifestyle for us. So I had no idea what in the world could be so great about giving, when receiving always seemed like the better end of the deal.

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…And then I grew up. I grew up and had a child of my own. I learned what it was to be financially, physically, and emotionally responsible for another human being. I learned what it was to have to make choices about what to do with limited resources as a single parent. And I learned what the generosity of loved ones and sometimes even strangers could do in meeting the needs of another. Gifts of baby clothes, childcare, scholarships to summer camps, outings to an amusement park or movie, little luxuries that often get missed when there is not enough money.

…And then I grew up some more. I found myself in a position to be a financial blessing to someone else. I realized that to come full circle from needing the gift to being able to give the gift meant that I had been entrusted by my heavenly Father with the responsibility of using what he had placed in my hands to be a blessing to someone else. That’s when I got it. That’s when I understood that it is more blessed to give than to receive. If God can trust you to get a blessing (to one of His children) through you, then He will get a blessing to you! Don’t miss the opportunity to be used by Him to bless someone else! It feels great 🙂

So my advice to you is to look at your circumstances, and look in your hand, and no matter where you are in life there is someone in your path that you can be a blessing to. It doesn’t have to be money only – it could be time, it could be a kind word, it could be a craft or baked good. Look at what your Heavenly Father has placed in your care to bless another with. Release it and put it out in the universe! You will be richer for it!

How Tired Are You of Hearing About the Financial Fiscal Cliff?

I know that I cannot be the only one sick and tired of hearing the broadcast reporters and reading the constant headlines about whether or not the country is going over the “Fiscal Cliff”. Regardless of your political affiliation, Republican, Democrat, Independent or Undecided, you probably can relate to me when I yell at the screen and say to them “Stop pointing fingers, placing blame, go to work for the American people!” 90 days ago, you could not have convinced me that our politicians would sit back and let this issue go up until the wire and into the new year. The reality today is that they have done just that and seem to be in no hurry to fix the problem that was predicted long ago.

I see this as a blatant reminder that individuals need to know now more than ever that there is no bail out plan from the capital that will save you. You have to save yourself. You have to be financially secure in order to insulate yourself from the political whims of government leaders. They are spending more and more of our money each year, much of it irresponsibly. And have the audacity to campaign and fight for the privilege of taxing us more in coming years than in the past. Do not misunderstand me, I am well aware that the US cannot dig its way out of the current financial pit by merely cutting spending, so I know that taxes as a revenue source must rise. My issue is the level of irresponsible spending that has taken place with no plans to curb waste.

So back to you individually. Now is the time to get your finances in order. Get rid of debt. Control your spending. Put money aside to be prepared for short term emergencies. Stop paying interest rates to other people (car loans, credit cards, lines of credit) and start earning money on your money (savings, investments, business lines, real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds). Be your own Bailout – because don’t trust that anyone else is coming.

Besides – my momma always taught me that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Christmas Survivors Rejoice!

Congratulations! You made it through! Survived another Christmas with all of the craziness and shopping madness and family shenanigans. It’s just a lot of fun after it is all said and done. Usually for my family there is a lot of cooking and eating and laughing going on (which is why I am getting back to my workout schedule ASAP). And now it is also time to look at the fat that has accumulated and your spending habits. Time to get them back in line if you let yourself go over the holiday. Let’s tell those dollars what to do in advance. Write up an action plan for January of where your money is supposed to go. Write it up before the money arrives – you will see things much more clearly.

The best place to go when you are busted? Work! Better to be at work trying to make a few more dollars, rather than walking through the aisles looking at all of the many items that marketers convince you that you must have. Don’t fall for it. Stick to your plan to dig your way out of your past poor money management mistakes.

My corner of my first Debt Free Christmas!  If I can do it, so can you!

My corner of my first Debt Free Christmas! If I can do it, so can you!

I cannot remember my last Christmas that didn’t carry over into my January and February income. Living Debt Free doesn’t happen by accident – it starts with a decision. A decision that you have to keep reminding yourself of every time something shiny or pretty comes at you, trying to pull you back into old debt building habits.

What have you decided to do about your financial future? Decide to live debt free!

Almost Got Me!

Less than 3 days before Christmas and I had my own little unexpected expense rise up that wasn’t in my budget, plus one gift that I forgot to buy.  Fortunately there were funds in my emergency fund to handle it, but my pocket money was lower than I planned.  Then I saw something that I wanted.  It was something positive.  Something good.  Something that I was planning to purchase anyway.  The only downside was that there was no extra cash lying around to cover it.  I looked over to my wallet and glanced longingly at my credit cards, thinking “no one will know”.  I had to hit the brakes and step away from my computer and the little icon that said “press this button for PayPal”!  Don’t slip!  Don’t give up!  Stick to your guns!  Make it through the holiday debt free!  You can do it!

 

Holiday countdown! 5 Days to Christmas!

Can you believe it?!  It’s practically here.  Most of us planned to make this be the first year that we finished our shopping early and refuse to go into debt over the holiday madness.  The question is how many were able to stick to the commitment that we made to ourselves months ago?  If you started shopping early, then congratulations to you because you probably saved money on the gifts that you bought weeks ago.  And if you shopped only with cash and no credit, then you are a rock star!  Because you can wrap up the holiday without having it follow you into the new year with high interest rates and lower credit scores.  If you cannot take credit for either of these accomplishments then know that you are not alone, and we have work to do.

Let’s commit to do better.  We will take one Bite Sized Piece at a time to financial freedom.  Come and go with me.

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