What We Value Matters

There is a time and a place for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3:1): a right place for time and how we allocate it, and a right place for money and how we use it, a right place for people, and a right place for everything else. If we don’t have these straight, life becomes a big mess.

And as much as God values time and money–and we ought to do the same–there is at least one value that matters more.

My house burned down to the ground in January 1994, and my family lost everything. Mind you, we were dirt poor at that point and still on food stamps, so we did not own very much of value, but still–all was gone. All we had left was each other, our car (because it was parked outside) and the clothes on our backs. Here is the article that I wrote at that time:

               

“Barb, the snow is glowing orange!” My husband’s voice sounded like an echo in a long tunnel. I tried to focus my eyes in the dark. The alarm clock said it was 1:46 am.

“The house is on fire!” he yelled, staring out of our bedroom window into the dark winter night.

“Fire?”That couldn’t be. That happened to other people, not to us. Besides, my husband has a tendency to overreact, or at least exaggerate.

“Just relax, Rich; it can’t be that bad,” I said, slowly sitting up in the bed.

“It’s the house, Barb!”The urgency in his voice shook me out of my drowsy state.“Get dressed and wake the kids up!” My stomach began to do somersaults.

“God, help us,” I prayed, wide awake now. I jumped out of bed and looked outside. Indeed, the snow was bright orange, and the orange was moving. I quickly slipped sweatpants and a sweater on.

“What should I take with me?” I asked, my heart pounding in my ears. I couldn’t think of anything.

“Just get the kids!”

I shook them awake and helped their sleepy bodies into socks and robes as fast as possible. As I hurried them down the stairs, my ten-year old daughter exclaimed, “Look, Mom, the fire is inside the house!”Flames were beginning to lick the ceiling in the living room. “Please, God, keep us safe!” I begged.

My legs were shaking a bit. “Quick, let’s go!” I said. We made it to the first floor, and I swiftly shoved boots onto their feet.“Let’s have a race to Betsie’s house; let’s go, guys!”I pushed them outside.

The painful cold bit us at the front door and took our breath away. I found out later that it had been 27 degrees below zero, the coldest night in decades. I rushed the kids to the neighbor’s and pounded on her door.“Please watch them,” I asked when she finally came. “The house is on fire! I’ve got to go back.” I noticed that I was shivering violently, but I no longer felt the cold.

“And call our friend Butch,” I added, hastily reciting his telephone number for her.

When I turned around to go back, I saw our lovely home—our place of refuge–engulfed by a hungry blaze. The loud, crackling sound of fire running rampant was deafening in the perfectly still January night.

“Rich, where are you?” I screamed.“Come out now!”Somehow as soon as I said the words, he was standing there, at my side.

We’ll be all right Barb; God is good,” he said, hugging my trembling body.“The fire department should be here any moment.”

The entire second floor was gone already, and the voracious flames were now attacking the first floor. I suddenly remembered my children’s pictures and my husband’s love letters meticulously filed and stored in the old cedar chest. And my favorite worn-out Bible, the one I knew how to find things in. And my brand-new ring my mom had just sent from Europe for Christmas; why had I taken it off last night?

Trapped outside, I wished for tears, but my body was far too stunned for them. How will we survive? I wondered, as the insatiable blaze continued to feed on all I held dear.

Exhausted firefighters fought the blaze relentlessly, but to no avail. Our home was gone–utterly gone. And the fire scorched the very center of my heart.

Butch and his wife made room for us in their home, but sleep escaped me for three long nights. I tossed in bed, considering my many losses: my wedding gown, the pregnancy journal I had kept for my first-born, all my precious heirlooms from Europe; why hadn’t I thought about grabbing some of these as I left the house? Everything I loved was destroyed, swept away as though it had never existed.

“This is too much to bear, Lord,” I confessed.“Please help me through this.”Exhausted, I finally dozed on the fourth night.

The first thing I saw when I woke up the next morning was my husband’s face, gazing down at me in kindness. I heard my children giggle right behind him.

“Good-morning, Princess,” he said, his eyes smiling at me. The kids sprang from behind him and leaped onto the makeshift bed, faces filled with laughter and arms extended, thirsty for hugs and kisses. And it was at that moment, with little arms reaching around me to squeeze me and little hands poking my side that the Lord revealed this simple, precious truth to me: I had lost nothing. The fire had destroyed every single thing I owned; yet I had lost nothing!

“Thank you for life today, Father,” I whispered. I let myself hug and be hugged.

I am truly blessed to have learned one of life’s most important truths: people come first.

 

And you are welcome to join my closed facebook group where we dig in deep and find the joy of reclaiming our finances and time.

What Does God Think about Time and Money?

Since we have been working on handling time and money God’s way, knowing His thoughts on these matters is going to be very useful to you as well.

The only real way to find out what God thinks it about anything is to search the Scriptures because this is the place He actually reveals Himself.

God’s thoughts about anything are always perfect. He did not have a difficult childhood, does not have a mate who overspends, does not think that He is lacking or not enough in any area. None of His thoughts are skewed about anything.

And God has a lot to say about time and money–as though He knew we might need a little help!

Here are four predominant thoughts that God holds regarding time and money.

1.God thinks that He is the creator of time and money.

He clearly states this in John 1:3, ” All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

2.God thinks that we need to be wise in order to handle time and money well.

The psalmist in Psalm 90:12 cries out to God, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.”

It matters what we do with the days given to us. To be responsible with our days–be good stewards–we must use time wisely, investing it instead of wasting it. There are many Scriptural references for this one, but I will only give you four to chew on: Proverbs 31:17-18; James 4:13-15; Proverbs 6:6-11; Ephesians 5:15

Jesus Himself tells us the importance of being wise with our money in Luke 16:11, “And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?”

Good stewardship of money includes having no “bad” debt (Romans 13:8), being generous (Luke 6:38 and Deuteronomy 16:17), investing (Proverbs 22:3) and giving back to God Himself (Proverbs 3:9-10)

Financial wisdom brings financial security; Proverbs 21:20 says, ” The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.”

3.God thinks that contentment is good.

When we fail to see His provision in our time and money, we grow increasingly frustrated and begin to resent the fact that we don’t have as much as we think we need. This is, of course, a perception issue, but it matters greatly in the eyes of God. Hebrews 13:5 spells it out: ” Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”

Contentment has to reach all the way down to your things (money) and the 24 hours you are given each day (Matthew 6:34).

Thankfulness is such a vital key in this area; it keeps us from want and causes us to function out of a place of “enough” rather than “not enough”.

  1. God thinks that words matter.

If you ever do an exhaustive study on the over one hundred scriptural references to the power of our words, you will find that they affect literally every single area of our lives.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” (Proverbs 18:22)

We indeed create lack or plenty with our words. And this truly brings us back to the beginning of this chapter, doesn’t it?

  • Thoughts create words.
  • Words create actions.And you are welcome to join my closed facebook group where we dig in deep and find the joy of reclaiming our finances and time.
  • Actions create habits.
  • Habits create our destiny.

 

 

 

And you are welcome to join my closed facebook group where we dig in deep and find the joy of reclaiming our finances and time.

Do You Know What Your Actual Thoughts about Time and Money Are?

Our thoughts about anything in life have a lot to do with what our parents valued, what our life experiences have been up until this moment, what we talk about with our friends, and how we live. Our beliefs are also linked to powerful emotions and not always easy to uncover.

Following is a list of questions for you to answer in order to help you with this process.

 

Here are a few tips before you get started:

  • Don’t rush; take your time to ponder each question; maybe just answer a few at a time.
  • If at all possible, write your answers down somewhere–maybe even a journal?
  • Since this exercise is for your eyes only, be as honest as you can handle.
  • The point is not the answers themselves, but rather what you will discover as you go through the process.

TIME:

  1. What activities do you love spending your time on?
  2. What activities do you “hate” spending your time on but you do them anyway? Why do you?
  3. What would you do with your time if you did not have to work?
  4. What do you feel guilty spending your time on?
  5. List three things that your childhood taught you about time. Can you relate these to memories?
  6. Can you recall some things you heard your parents say about time while you were growing up?
  7. Is time involved in how you express love to people?
  8. Do you volunteer your time regularly?
  9. How do you try to control your time?
  10. Is time good? Is time bad? Why?
  11. What are your thoughts on investing your time in yourself?
  12. Describe time with five adjectives.
  13. How do you want to feel about time in five years?
  14. Are you comfortable with making goals concerning your time?
  15. How do you feel after spending time doing chores around the house?
  16. If time were a person, what would he/she look like?
  17. What do you want your “time” legacy to be?
  18. Please state your beliefs about time in one paragraph.

MONEY:

  1. What activities do you love spending your money on?
  2. What activities do you “hate” spending your money on but you do them anyway?
  3. What do you feel guilty spending money on?
  4. List three things that your childhood taught you about money. Can you relate these to memories?
  5. Can you recall some things you heard your parents say about money while you were growing up?
  6. Is money involved in how you show love to people?
  7. Do you tithe or give money regularly? Why or why not?
  8. How do you try to control spending?
  9. Is it difficult to talk about money? Why or why not?
  10. Is money good? Is money bad? Why?
  11. Are you aware of all the loans (and their interest rates) you owe?
  12. What are your thoughts on owing money?
  13. What are your thoughts on lending money?
  14. What are your thoughts on saving money for a rainy day?
  15. What are your thoughts on investing money?
  16. Describe money with five adjectives.
  17. Do you know where you are at financially today? If so, describe it. If not, why do you think you don’t know?
  18. Where do you want to be at financially in five year? How can you get there?
  19. Are you comfortable with making financial goals?
  20. How do you feel after paying your bills?
  21. Did you prepare financially for your family in case of your premature death or long illness?
  22. Do you spend/invest money to impress people?
  23. If money were a person, what would he/she look like?
  24. What do you want your financial legacy to be?
  25. Please state your beliefs about money in one paragraph.

Once you see what you actually believe, you can begin to build on what is good and de-construct what is not, because at the end of the day, “as a man thinks, so he is.”

So here are a few more questions to help you conclude this section:

  • Can you list the areas where your belief system about time and money serves you well? How can you build on those?
  • Can you list the areas where your belief system about time and money does not serve you well? Maybe you think in “not enough-ness”? Maybe your beliefs are skewed because of life experiences and hinder you in going forward? Do you need to “up-level” how you value time and money? How could you do that? Journal a few minutes about this if at all possible.

And you are welcome to join my closed facebook group where we dig in deep and find the joy of reclaiming our finances and time.

How do You Think about Money and Time?

The way we think about money determines all of our relationship to it, how much we have, how much we spend, how much we save. The way we think about time determines all of our relationship to it, our perception of how much time we have, how much time we spend, waste or invest.

What we think (you are fat like a cow) becomes what we say (you ugly fat cow).

And what we say determines our actions. Our actions turn into habits, and habits determine our destiny.

Show me your habits, and I can pretty much predict your future: pretty scary, isn’t it?

Most of us don’t even think about what we do on an everyday basis, yet our actions of today (determined by our thoughts of today) absolutely shape what our tomorrows will look like.

When we think hurried thoughts, our speech reflects the fact that we feel hurried, and our actions will do the same (multi-tasking, doing things superficially, only half-listening, etc…) and we wind up with a hurried, unfulfilled life.

When we think poor thoughts, we speak the language of poverty, which causes us make “poor” choices, leading to poor habits and a poor life.

On the other hand, when we respect our time and money, we make room for them (see principle #1). Our speech, actions and habits reflect our beliefs. When we value these precious assets for what they are, they work for us and not against us.

Our beliefs directly influence our behaviors.

The good news is, we can change what we believe. And when we change beliefs, we change our thoughts. And when we change our speech, then our actions, our habits and ultimately our destiny.

It’s your birthright to choose your set of beliefs.

The bad news is, most of us don’t really know what we believe or think about time and money. Do you listen to what is going on in your head? Are you aware of the story you are telling yourself?

 

We are a group of women who help each other “own our lives” with joy, concentrating on handling Time and Money God’s way right now. You can join us right here! 

You Ugly Fat Cow

In my career as a personal trainer, I once had a client who came to me because she felt “awful all over” and wanted to lose some weight. As we began to work together, I noticed something curious about her: she called herself “Ugly Fat Cow.”

Every time she saw herself in my wall-to-wall mirror, she would point her chin to the mirror and say, “you ugly fat cow!” Probably three times a session. Or maybe more.

“You ugly fat cow.” She believed it.

“You ugly fat cow.” She thought it.

“You ugly fat cow.” She said it.

No matter how hard she worked, her weight never changed. No matter how little she ate, her weight never changed. Would you like to know why? Because in her mind, she was an ugly fat cow. It’s as simple as that.

As I gained her confidence, I began to talk to her about her thoughts and her speech.  She fought me hard on it. It was excruciatingly painful for both of us. Eventually, we got to the place where she was forbidden to say “you ugly fat cow.”

She started to feel a bit better. Eventually, she began to believe that her thoughts matter. And she agreed to work not only with her speech, but with her thoughts as well.

She changed her mind about herself. She changed her thoughts. She felt better about herself. And as if by magic, her body changed.

 

Life happens from the inside out, never the other way around. My client quest for weight loss was futile until she changed her thoughts.

We have a tendency to believe our own thoughts. They drive us. They shape our future. I like to say it this way, “the story on the inside becomes the reality on the outside.”

 

We are a group of women who help each other “own our lives” with joy, concentrating on handling Time and Money God’s way right now. You can join us right here! 

How to Replace Clutter

The most useful system I have found for replacing any kind of clutter with order is not a system at all, but rather an attitude (we will talk in depth about attitudes in our third principle). I call it an attitude of mindfulness.

As long as we do what we do wishing we were someplace else, and as long as we rush through the tasks so we can check them off, our work will not be as fruitful as it ought to.

Here is the secret of mindfulness:

  • When you pay your bills, pay your bills with your entire being. You very well might find extra dollars by paying attention (or not having to pay late fees).
  • When you listen to your kids, listen to your kids with your entire being. You more than likely will discover that it’s not more time with them that you need, but just more enjoyment of the time you do have.
  • When you grocery shop, grocery shop with your whole being. You might find that your bill is lower because you compared brands and did not buy what you already had at home.
  • When you scrub the floor, scrub the floor with your whole being. You might discover that by doing it thoroughly, it only needs done every so often, thereby giving you extra time to pursue other endeavors.

Mindfulness is being present in the moment with every fiber of your being.

Mindfulness is giving value to every dollar and every minute that passes through your hands.

Mindfulness is the way to much freedom.

It will support the rest of your story. Now it’s time to just do it.

Do you have to be perfect? Absolutely not. Committed? Yes.

Start now.

 

We are a group of women who are learning to OWN OUR LIVES with Joy! Right now, we are working on handling our finances and time in a godly way. You are very welcome to join us if you wish!

Systems for Managing Money

As we move forward in decluttering our lives, we realize taht we all need to figure out a system that works best for paying our bills.

Here are some thoughts for you:

  • Try to have the bill payment automated through your bank. In order to do that, you need to keep on top of your check register and be aware of what is in your checkbook at all times.
  • If that is more than you can handle right now, pay each bill as it comes in. This is what I do with the bills that are not automated. I designate 10 to 30 minutes each day to do that. It might be a good idea to set a reminder/alarm on your phone so you don’t forget. Then if they are not due for a while, I just put a date on the envelope so I know when to send it–or send it right away if I can cover it. I keep all outgoing mail in one area of my home.
  • If you don’t like this system, pick two days a week to pay the bills, maybe Saturday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Friday. Set a reminder on your phone until it becomes a habit. Keep all bills in a specific spot in your home and retrieve them on bill paying day; write the checks, place in envelope and mail right then.

One system isn’t better than another–what matters is to have one that works for you and sticking to it. You will find that this frees your mind beautifully–you never have to wonder if the bills have been paid on time.

Here is another tip: Give yourself permission to start fresh.

If your checkbook is a huge mess, you might give yourself permission to start over. You can even go to a different bank if that feels better. Start a brand new checking account with your next paycheck (or the money that has been accumulating in that “change” jar) and start the automated payments fresh. Within a couple of months, all checks written on the old checking account will have cleared and you will be able to close that account. At the end of the first month in the new bank, make sure you reconcile your checkbook. And do it again the next month. And the next.

 

Just Do It! Really?

So we have talked a lot about needing space around us and peace of mind in order to be productive. We cannot have more of anything unless we learn to manage what we already have.

But knowing never set anyone free.

Doing what we know to do sets us free.

So be like the Nike commercial–“Just do it!”

 

Don’t think about it, don’t ruminate over the fact that someone else should be doing it, or about how much you dislike the task–Just Do It!

Before you know, you will discover room in your schedule for what you really want to do, and money you did not know you had. Order in your home, agenda and finances will give you a new confidence, a feeling of empowerment, and a whole lot more joy in the activities of everyday life.

Just Do It! Really? Really!

We are a group of women who are learning to OWN OUR LIVES with Joy! Right now, we are working on handling our finances and time in a godly way. You are very welcome to join us if you wish!

 

 

 

For When Bringing Order to your Time and Finances seems Impossible

We had peanut butter and nutella sandwiches with cucumber slices for lunch, and we made a fort in which she whispered to me, “Grand’ma, I’m so glad we get to spend time together.”

We went on a scavenger hunt during which we found 5 acorns, one stone, one stick with mushrooms on it and a bird house with bird poop inside.

We took a long walk uphill to go look at a carved owl and we touched its eyes and beak. Then we turned around and she started to run down the hill, but her little three- year-old legs kind of felt like they were going a little too fast with the momentum.

“Grand’ma, please, carry me, ’cause I’m scared to fall.”

I tightened my grip on her little hand.

“We aren’t going to fall if we don’t rush, Emmaline,” I said. “If we just put one foot in front of the other and don’t rush, we are going to get there safely.”

“Okay, Grand-ma.” She held on to my hand for dear life. “Okay, Grand-ma.” she said again. “One foot in front of the other and we don’t rush.”

“Yeah, and we can have some hot cocoa when we get home!”

She relaxed her little hand in mine. “And put some cream on our hands to make them oh-so-soft?”

We put one foot in front of the other, my Emmaline and I, and we made it home in one piece.

And I keep replaying in my mind the picture of her little legs carefully walking down the steep hill one foot at a time. And how easy it really was to get home safely.

Tomorrow, when life’s momentum feels a bit too fast and scary, I am going to hear her voice in my head, “Okay Grand-ma. One foot in front of the other and we don’t rush.”

I am going to trust my Father because He says that I am going to get home safely. And I am going to relax my hand in His, and just put one foot in front of the other.

Steps for Bringing Order in Your Finances!

A large majority of people have a very messed up checkbook. Many of us don’t even know how to reconcile them, or they are so messed up that it has become almost impossible to get it right.

Been there. Done that.

Do you have a lot of unfinished financial issues in your life, like money owed to people or organizations, checks not deposited in the bank, bills unpaid, credit cards with unknown balances, checks not recorded anywhere, unreconciled checkbooks, bank statements that feel like they are written in Chinese and therefore ignored?

Been there, done that.

But hear me out: You are not a bad person because your finances are not in order–you are just a person who has not yet mastered the art of handling finances wisely. And if you are wanting to follow God’s principles in your finances, you are going to have to master them. It’s hard work at first, but the good news is, once you learn, you will not feel overwhelmed any longer, and life will go on in a much more positive way.

Clutter in our finances makes it impossible for more money to come to us–there is no room for it. But be faithful (organized, aware, vigilant) with what you have, and more will come.

Got ten minutes? Just start.

  • TAKE INVENTORY

Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to finances; it leads to unpaid bills, late fees, frustrations and poverty. It’s much better to have your eyes wide open, even if the truth hurts–at least, you can start dealing with it. In the next chapter, we will track your actual expenses. For now, all we need to do is to at the very least be aware of what bills you have and organize them.

  1. Grab a piece of paper and start listing financial “unfinished” business. Maybe you owe your friend $3 for a cup of coffee; maybe your sister owes you $10 for the latest trip to the movies; maybe you still need to pay a teenager for watching your dog. Keep that paper where you can see and keep adding to it as you remember other things.

As much as you can, start dealing with these, one dollar at a time. As you do, you will sense a new freedom and know that you are obeying God’s Word: “Give everyone what you owe them.” (Romans 13:7) Remember, where there is clutter, there is no room for more.

  1. Take inventory of all the bills that you know come into your home every single month.
  1. Each one of us needs to figure out a system that works best for paying our bills. Here are some thoughts for you:
  • Try to have the bill payment automated through your bank. In order to do that, you need to keep on top of your check register and be aware of what is in your checkbook at all times.
  • If that is more than you can handle right now, pay each bill as it comes in. This is what I do with the bills that are not automated. I designate 10 to 30 minutes each day to do that. It might be a good idea to set a reminder/alarm on your phone so you don’t forget. Then if they are not due for a while, I just put a date on the envelope so I know when to send it–or send it right away if I can cover it. I keep all outgoing mail in one area of my home.
  • If you don’t like this system, pick two days a week to pay the bills, maybe Saturday and Wednesday, or Tuesday and Friday. Set a reminder on your phone until it becomes a habit. Keep all bills in a specific spot in your home and retrieve them on bill paying day; write the checks, place in envelope and mail right then.

One system isn’t better than another–what matters is to have one that works for you and sticking to it. You will find that this frees your mind beautifully–you never have to wonder if the bills have been paid on time.

  • START FRESH:

If your checkbook is a huge mess, you might give yourself permission to start over. You can even go to a different bank if that feels better. Start a brand new checking account with your next paycheck (or the money that has been accumulating in that “change” jar) and start the automated payments fresh. Within a couple of months, all checks written on the old checking account will have cleared and you will be able to close that account. At the end of the first month in the new bank, make sure you reconcile your checkbook. And do it again the next month. And the next.

We are a group of women who are learning to “own our lives.” Right now, we are working on managing our money and time in a godly way. You are welcome to join us right here!