Category Archives: Blog

This series comes from the daily texts sent out by Hart Ramsey called “Uplift”. Last week he had a series of texts dealing with “Survival Mode”.  Each day I’ll post another text (in image form).  If you want to sign up for “Uplift”, text UPLIFT to 46786.
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My Goliath

I ran into Goliath one day at a Christian bookstore. I had a gift certificate that I wanted to spend and only about 20 minutes to find something, check out, and leave so I could get back to work in time to eat. Then a short, older man approached me. He asked if I needed help finding anything. I made some goofy remark about having 50 books already at home that I still need to read. I told him thank you and thought that was it.

That was not it. Not for Goliath.

The standard reply of “Just let me know if you need anything” was not uttered. The man did not move. Without missing a beat he questioned,

“Would you prepare a meal and not eat it? Why buy a book and not read it?”

Suddenly I realized that I wouldn’t be spending my giftcard today. I started to wonder if I was going to make it back to work on time. I started to wonder if I would make it home by dinner.

Something about the man changed before my very eyes. He began to grow.

He told of stories of being in his home country, of his family, and of his faith. With every word he spoke he grew larger and stronger. He told me about being an atheist and how he was saved by his a tract given to him by a friend. He spoke of his love for God’s Word and how he has read hundreds of books.

It was a nice story and a great testimony. If I was not in a hurry I would have probably sat and listened for a while. However, I WAS in a hurry. I told him a couple times that I had to go, but he kept me. I was already upset, but then he said that “Christian rock” is a contradictory term. I don’t like much Christian rock, but it is a valid form of Christian music.

After he poured out his life history and life lessons before me he looked ten feet tall.

I searched my pocket for a few smooth stones and a sling, but could only find my cell phone; which showed me how long it had been since I first entered the store. 25 minutes…

I showed every sign of disgust that I knew how to show as he continued to talk – apparently American body language was not one of the hundreds of books that he had read. He asked if I regularly read the Bible. I told him, “Yes. Well, sort of. Not everyday”. That was a stretch. I have fallen flat on my face when it comes to reading my bible.

He said the number of meals that I eat in a day should equal the number of chapters that I read. Finally, he asked me if I knew Jesus – which I clearly did not display to him that I did. As I grew smaller and he grew taller he finally released me – 30 minutes after I entered the store.

I took the long walk back to my car feeling dejected and angry. I growled and scowled all of the way back to the office. People were intentionally annoying me on the way. Some people were driving “like grandmas” – way to slow; while others were driving “like maniacs” – too fast to pass.

I scarfed down my food and hurried back to my desk. What a waste of a lunch. I felt so angry that he wasted my time. I felt so angry that I didn’t get to buy anything.

I felt angry…but it was not any of those reasons. Sure, I would have liked to pick up something with my gift card, but I could do that any day. What upset me so much? I thought for a minute as I relived that 30 minutes in my mind.

I saw Goliath again. Tall, proud Goliath. He’s taller than me. He is smarter than me. He is everything I am not. He succeeds where I fall short.

Then I pictured him again. He was short, older man. He asked me if I needed help finding anything. Apparently, I needed more help than I realized. He was my Goliath – my lack of commitment to prayer and Bible study, my fear of witnessing, my anger, and my short temper. In 30 minutes all of my greatest stumbling blocks were before my eyes. Goliath stood before me. Unlike David, I did not slay the giant. I did not overcome all of my greatest obstacle. I stood humbled.

This Goliath did not have to lift a finger to deliver a crushing blow to my ego.

People have a misconception about Christians. Because I am a Christian I do not think that I am perfect in some way. I know other nonChristians that are better people than I am. I want to work on that. The most important truth that I cling to is that I am saved despite the type of person I am.

I am far from perfect. I thank God for His wonderful grace that overcomes my worst behavior. God does not excuse me – He has given me a good whipping from time to time – but He forgives me. What a friend we have in Jesus! Praise God for forgiveness!

What Goliath have you faced recently that you had to try and overcome?

Faith & Finances w/ Hannah Roehrick

Welcome to my first ever guest post.  I’m excited to introduce you to Hannah Roehrick, a Christian and a blogger at https://www.facebook.com/ourdebtfreejourney.

I appreciate her willingness to share her story with you!

I used to think that faith and finances were separate. In fact, I kept my faith separate from most “practical” things like school, work, and, well basically everything. To me, the spiritual didn’t fit into everyday life, belonging to a dimension occupied solely by church leaders and evangelists.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that God was using this perspective to prepare me for a revelation–one that would shake my very foundation, and open my eyes to a reality that I never could have imagined.

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On December 31, 2013, my new husband, Chad, and I embarked on our life together. We were 27 years old, and filled with big, crazy dreams for the future. The only problem was that a debt mountain $153,000 high stood in the way of everything.
It isn’t as if this mountain came looming up out of nowhere. Both of us had relied heavily on credit cards over the years, Chad had rolled one car loan into another, and I had postponed college graduation long enough to acquire a hefty price tag (as you can probably guess, most of the debt was mine…but that’s another story).
Looking back to when we were accumulating all that debt, I can honestly say that neither of us thought much of it–not even when we got a little nervous about having to pay it back. From what we had seen of the world, everyone had debt on some level, and most people kept it around for their entire lives.
That changed the October after we started dating, when Chad borrowed a personal finance book from me that had been collecting dust on my shelf. Suddenly, he was on fire, throwing out concepts like emergency fund, budgeting, saving for retirement, and stewardship. I had heard (and ignored) all of these before, but it was the last one that really caught me.

Stewardship

 “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.” Psalm 24:1-2 ESV
As Christians, we are called to steward the Lord’s creation (Gen. 1:26-28). This includes our finances. We may have exchanged work to gain the money we receive with each paycheck, but the fact remains that it still belongs to God (John 3:27). We belong to God.
Like anything He gives us, God doesn’t want us to keep the money we receive to ourselves, but to multiply it and share it with others (Matt. 25:14-21, Acts 20:35). He gives it to us for the twofold purpose of caring for ourselves and for each other.
So the money that I spend at the movie theater, grocery store, or hair salon doesn’t belong to me, but my Father Who created me. When I finally realized this, it gave me great pause, because I had been spending someone else’s money, and I had been doing it poorly!
Not only that, but I hadn’t been depending on my Father to provide for me. If that doesn’t show a lack of faith, then I don’t know what does.

Provision

 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt. 6:33 ESV

 In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ tells us that we don’t need to worry about our needs being provided for. God provides for the sparrows, so why wouldn’t He provide for His children? All we need to be focused on is pursuing God–otherwise known as walking and growing in faith.
Though this fact is so easy for me to understand now, I had again missed the boat. Instead of looking to God to fulfill my every need, I chose again and again to put my faith in the financial provision of the world, a.k.a. debt.
Worse yet, I was turning my wants, like spending a semester in Southeast Asia, into needs. I needed to take out a loan so I could experience a different culture on the other side of the world. I needed to revamp my wardrobe, so I charged it to a credit card. I needed…well, fill in the blank.
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Turning the pages of that personal finance book was like opening Pandora’s box. Discovering how horrible we had become at managing money was only the tip of the iceberg, the symptom of our overall problem: we weren’t trusting God. We weren’t walking in faith.
All along, our financial journey has really been a faith journey. Earthly things like business and finances–these can’t be separated from faith, not Christian faith. Because it’s the way we live our lives.
In the end, it’s all part of the same path. That’s the essence of our debt-free journey.
Hannah Roehimage3rick is a wife, blogger, debtor, and Christ follower.
She and her husband, Chad, started Our Debt-Free Journey in 2014 to tell the tale of their climb up Debt Mountain. It’s their hope that readers can use the experiences illustrated on https://www.facebook.com/ourdebtfreejourney to avoid the same pitfalls in their own lives.

With Great Blessing

“Good Fortune”.  “Lucky streak”.  “Blessing from God”.

Many people use these three phrases interchangeably. The first two are more or less the same, but the third is very different.

Blessings from God come with absolutely no strings attached. However, they do come with great responsibility.

When our daughter came into our lives we experienced many different emotions. We realized on the first day we brought her home that she was our responsibility. No more folks coming to take her all night and feed her when she cries. No more pages to the nurse desk to bring things. We were on our own.

We felt both excited and scared (as any first time parents feel) as we fumbled through diaper changes, 2AM feedings, and screaming fits. Those days are long past us and we have come to learn that we still don’t know what we’re doing.

By the time we had our second child the fear lessened, but the responsibility only grew.   It has continued to grow with each passing year.

It is amazing to watch these two crazy kids develop their own personalities.  We realize there are many things we have control over for now, but not forever.

We don’t have to pump info into her head like a computer, but we do need to give her books to read, good TV programs to watch, and creative outlets to express herself.

Their minds are sponges.  We are responsible for making sure what they absorb makes them better people.  We have them for such a small period of time.  There will be a point in the future where our only influence we have on them is through the things we’ve taught and the examples we have given.

They will feel our love no matter where they go if we cover them in it while we still can.

Most importantly, they need to not only hear our profession of love and devotion to Jesus, but to see it in action. They need to see us praying, hear us read the Bible, and know that we will be going to church because we “want to”, not because we “have to” do it. We need to raise them to love God the way we love Him.

Children are amazing blessings and the greatest responsibility we will ever know.

The world is a scary place to raise a child. God help us. That’s not just a saying, but our prayer.

How to Organize Kids Keepsakes!

If you have kids they’re likely either out of school or almost there.  Congrats on surviving another year.

Just a little problem.  What on earth do you do with that mountain of kids keepsakes??

The struggle of figuring out what to keep and how to organize your kid’s papers and projects is the 3rd leading cause of stress among married couples with young children.

I have no proof or official study to cite, but it feels just feels right.  So, obviously it is a problem, but what do you do about it?

Help!  Ways to Help Organize

Note:  I don’t always follow these rules.  OK, rarely. However they are all very doable. 

  • Schoolwork/Crafts. As you view items get a sense whether it would be something special to look back on in 1, 3, 5 or 10 years form now.
    •  Math, spelling, etc. homework – unless its the first and only A of an entire school year – can be pitched after you give out kudos.
    • A hand drawn family portrait from your child that never draws anything?  KEEP!
    • The poster size mural of your family that was probably colored in the last 3 minutes of class?  Do I have to answer this one?
    • Once you figure out what you want to keep, store them safely away somewhere in your home. Large crafts that were pretty neat can either be photographed and pitched… or given away to a grandparent. 🙂
  • Church Crafts. When kids take home crafts from Sunday School do the following:
    • Talk about the craft and ask questions about why they made it.
    • Study the scripture associated with the craft and discuss application.
    • Let them display in their own room for a few weeks if possible; longer if it is something functional (bookmark, door hanger, tithing bank, etc.)
    • After a few weeks, take a picture and toss.
  • Church Papers. Papers take up less space and sometimes you feel bad throwing away things that have scripture or pictures of Jesus on them.
    • Connect the dots, word searches, mazes and any other “non artistic” paper can be pitched after looking at it.
    • Journal or devotional style papers might be beneficial to keep as long as they’re put in some sort of folder or binder that is easily accessible.
    • Coloring pages.  You can throw away 90% of them. Unless it is fridge worthy or you want to save it to put in a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

For more tips on what to do with kid’s keepsakes, watch this great quick video from Parents.Com:

http://www.parents.com/videos/v/94178794/home-organization-schoolwork-artwork-and-keepsakes.htm

How do you keep the papers/crafts from taking over your home?

Crabgrass and Dandelions

Crabgrass

Crabgrass – Photo from “Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide”

Do not let the name fool you. It isn’t really grass.  It is green, but that’s where the similarities end.

 Once this ugly weed takes root it spreads all over.  Once it spreads it starts to choke the healthy grass.  The roots run deep into the ground. You can pull it up, but unless you get to the root it will just keep coming back.
Our negative self-perceptions are a lot like this.  Our internal thoughts manifest themselves in a material way.  If our thoughts are ugly, we are ugly.  If we have self-deprecating thoughts, we depreciate our value as a human being.

Just like with the crabgrass we can try to just do a quick fix.  We can run from our thoughts by going on vacation, or cover them up with a smile. All the while the root of the problem remains.  

Remove the root and you remove the issue.  Just treating the surface will never do.

Sometimes the digging deep can hurt, but it is a necessary proccess to remove what lies deep beneath the surface.

Dandelions

Think back to your childhood. Did you ever blow on a dandelion and watch the little white things float through the air?  I loved doing that.
I don’t love it anymore. In fact, I cringe when I see our kids do it because I know that those “little white things” are seedlings. They may be tiny, but they can easily turn into a bigger problem. More dandelions.

Pretty soon you have an entire lawn of those yellow weed, flower wanna-be’s. It does not stop at just your lawn. It starts to spread to your neighbor’s lawn as well.

Deceit is much like this.  It all starts out innocent enough.  We tell a little “white lie”.  We float the lie out there and think that it is over, but it has just begun.

Pretty soon that lie forces us into another lie…. and another one.  Before we know it our lives are nothing, but one lie after another.  We can even trick ourselves into believing the lies.  We tell ourselves that we have a flower garden; when in fact we just have one giant weed bed.

The worst part is that it no longer just affects our lives, but everyone around us.

The next time you see a patch of crabgrass or a dandelion stop and think about your life.  Is there anything that you need to remove that is choking your spiritual life?  If so, take a moment to get to the root of the problem.  You’ll be glad you did.

Get to the root of the problem and your hard work will likely pay off… and for goodness sake please don’t blow on the dandelions!