Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dear Daughter

Years ago my first book "Walking Through A Fallen World" released. Since then I've done quite a bit of writing, but not as much publishing. That is about to change with the publishing of my second book sometime in the coming year. And already God has given me a third. 

As someone who grew up without a father in the home, I'm very much aware of the kind of challenges that can bring and how it can very much change our perception of God, our heavenly father. So this next book is for people who find themselves in a similar place. And while it's aimed at daughters, I believe that sons can also learn a lot from what their heavenly father has to say. It's in a letter format, letters from God to His children. And today I thought I'd share one of them with you. Here we go: 

Dear daughter, 

I designed time and all of life to move in seasons.  But unlike the weather those seasons aren't limited to spring, summer, fall and winter.  Seasons go far beyond that and effect every part of your life. 

There is a time for life and a time for death. 

A time of pain and a time of healing. 

A time when everything falls apart and a time when all things are made new. 

A time to cry your eyes out and a time to dance the night away. 

A time of seeking and searching and a time of finding those answers you sought after. 

A time of deathly silence and a time when you can't stop talking. 

Those seasons roll in like the waves and retreat like the tide.  But unlike the tide, they don't always flow on a set schedule.  That's because they flow on My timetable and My plans for you are far beyond what you can even comprehend right now. 

That doesn't mean you'll never know times of difficulty or never wonder 'why'?  But it does mean that if you hang on when the season passes you will rejoice in what that time has brought you.

Just like the whole world awakens to a symphony of spring after a long winter, so will your seasons of winter come to pass and lead you into a season like the celebration of spring.  

Don't turn away from any one of these seasons in your life, but instead embrace each one as a gift from Me. 

Winter, springtime, summer, fall.  If you look closely you will find Me in them all. 


The conductor of the seasons and your heavenly Father.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Crazy Love

With my small group I'm reading the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.  It's a very challenging book and one you can't just skim over and think you got the message.  It takes deep thought and radical change.

No one likes change.  Change isn't easy.  But if we're not growing, we're dying, so change is essential to not just the human experience but for our spiritual lives as well.

I don't want to look back on my life and see a long list of wasted opportunities and superficial spirituality.  I want to build my relationship with God into something so deep and powerful that it doesn't take moments of disaster to get me to my knees crying out.  I'd rather be there everyday.

But that kind of relationship can't happen without change.  Change to my attention span.  Change to the way I spend my time.  Change to the way I view myself.  And largely change to the way I view God. 

If I look at my relationship with God like He's only a DJ there to take my requests, my prayers are going to be shallow and selfish.  But if I approach Him based on who He is, the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of heaven and earth whose holiness is unmatched and whose love can't be defined, then something is bound to change.  My prayers start to reflect the reverence that should be there and my faith gets a lot more bolder as I realize who He is and what He can do not just in my life but in the lives of those around me.

Some quotes from the book that have me thinking:

“But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.” (Francis Chan)

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don't really matter.” (Francis Chan)

“It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.”  (Francis Chan)

“The irony is that while God doesn't need us but still wants us, we desperately need God but don’t really want Him most of the time.  He treasures us and anticipates our departure from this earth to be with Him—and we wonder, indifferently, how much we have to do for Him to get by.” (Francis Chan)

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Many Ways To Save A Buck

Over the years I've learned a lot about how to budget and make a dollar go much further.  I often get asked what my "secret" is  The truth is I don't have a specific secret, but rather some "rules" I've learned along the way and have implemented into my buying practices.

Watch The Flyers Before, And After, You Buy
While most of us are great with watching flyers before we make a purchase, how many of us look for the items we have bought in a flyer after its already been paid for and picked up?  You might not do it, but it's a great way to save money.  Most stores have a policy that if the price drops within 30 days of your purchase they will give you the discount.  So after making a purchase I'll keep my eyes peeled on the flyers for the next couple of weeks.  Last summer I got $50 back on one thing I bought and another time got a whole bunch of free accessories for a camera when they offered the deal two weeks after I had bought it.  It pays to keep your eyes open.

Know Your Prices
Many people don't realize that there is something called the scanning code of practice that can be a consumers best friend.  Here's how it works: some of the big box stores, such as Walmart and Canadian Tire, signed the scanning code of practice as a way of keeping themselves accountable for accuracy when it comes to the prices that are "scanned in" for items you're buying.  That said if you are in the checkout line and you notice the price that has been scanned is wrong all you have to do is mention the scanning code of practice and if the item is under $10 you get it free.  If it's over $10 you get $10 off the purchase.  I can't tell you how much money I've saved with this.  I've gotten free DVD's, money off fishing equipment, even free groceries.   It's a great system because not only do get the item for the price it should be, but you get up to $10 off.  Plus by saying something you let the store know that something is wrong with their system and then they have incentive to fix it for other shoppers who might be unknowingly paying more for their purchases.

Make Your Credit Cards Work For You
While I'm not an advocate of using credit cards when you can't pay the balance when the bill is due, I do use them regularly for my everyday purchases.  When you have the right cards you can make them work for you when you do this.  It all comes in choosing the right cards to use for your purchases.  For example, I have one card that gives me a discount every time I fill up my gas tank at their pumps.  So just by paying at the pump and using their card to do so I save a couple of dollars every time I fill 'er up and it does add up.  Another card I got gives me a certain percentage of cash back at the end of the year.  Where with points you might never get enough to cash in, with this system I get actual money back every year.  This year I got enough cash to cover two roundtrip tickets of airfare- no complaints there!

48 Hour Rule
I have a "48 hour rule" that I live by.  So what is the 48 hour rule?  If I see something that I want in the store or online that isn't an essential purchase I make myself wait 48 hours before buying.  This reduces a lot of regret purchases as after time passes often the excitement or impulse disappears.

Ask Myself The Best Question Ever
In his series "The Best Question Ever" Andy Stanley teaches how to avoid making foolish decisions and much of it wraps around a very simple question: is this the wise thing to do?  I've found asking myself this question before making purchasing decisions especially saves me a lot of heartache and regret.  When the time came for me to buy my first vehicle I asked the best question ever and decided that instead of using my savings as a down payment on a new vehicle the wise thing for me to do at the time was to save up until I had enough for the full price of a second hand vehicle.  For me in the place I was financially at the time, that was the course of action to take and I've been so thankful many times over that the only payment I have to make as far as my vehicle is concerned is insurance and gas.  For you the wise thing to do might be different.  That's why it's the best question ever- it's something that we can apply to our own lives based on our past, present and future circumstances.

So do you have any secrets to saving money?  If so, please share!