Last Sunday, my son led a an object lesson demonstration for his Sunday school group. The illustration showed the importance of putting God first in our lives and, also, what happens when we get our priorities out of order. I thought it was a great point that could be beneficial for everyone to put into practice.
The demonstration went something like this:
A clear glass vase represents our lives.
Several big rocks represent the most important things in our lives. Like prayer, Bible reading, daily devotions, and faithfulness to church.
The smaller rocks represent other important things like family, work, school, chores and working in the church.
The sand represents the fun and entertaining things in life. Like hanging out with friends, reading, vacations, games, play dates, social media and whatever else you find entertaining.
When the sand (entertainment) was poured into the vase first and the small rocks were added next, there was not enough room for all the big rocks to fit in. Some of the big rocks had to be left out.
When the order was reversed and the big rocks were added first, then the small rocks, it was interesting to see that every last bit of sand also fit in the vase. It filtered in and around everything else and nothing at all was left out.
When we get our priorities in the correct order, we get to have a walk with God, do fulfilling work, and enjoy all the fun things in life.
The illustration was great for a Sunday school object lesson. And it fit right in with the story of Mary and Martha. However, it’s not an original idea.
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, demonstrated this same lesson in regards to time management. Truthfully, it applies to every area of our lives, not just our Christian walk. When you broaden or narrow the scope, the lesson of Big Rocks First still applies.
In life, our relationships are the big rocks. They are the what we should be putting our main focus on. Everything else we do in life will always come back to the people we do it for, rely on, and get our support from. We want to make sure we are putting our relationships with our spouse, children, friends, and God before things like work, social clubs, school and business. These are important and even urgent responsibilities, however, they mean nothing if our relationships suffer.
In our business, the content we are creating, the value we offer and our customers needs are the big rocks. Before we spend time on marketing, advertising, and building a social media platform, we need to have a foundation of those big rocks. Customers coming into your store or traffic coming to your blog don’t mean anything if you don’t have something there of value to offer them. They won’t stay long and your efforts will be wasted.
When you get your priorities out of order and start with the sand or even the smaller rocks, it doesn’t make the big rocks go away. They are still there, begging for your time. It causes mental clutter and feelings of guilt for leaving something important undone.
Big rocks are used to build strong foundations. You can’t build a business without a product, you can’t have a quality marriage without communication, and you can’t have a walk with God without prayer. Those are all part of the foundation of the life you are trying to build. Without a strong foundation, all the important and entertaining things you do will erode. You will be left with a life of dissatisfaction and regret.
When you start to prioritize your life or your day, always remember Big Rocks First. Because when you get the big things out of the way, the other stuff will just fall into place. You’ll get to enjoy the fun things in life, be fulfilled, and have a clear conscience.
What are the Big Rocks your are needing to put first right now? How can you make changes in your current schedule to make sure a strong foundation is built? Share your comments here.
It’s good to look to the future. It’s coming sooner than you think. If you don’t have a plan or something to aim for, you won’t end up where you want to be. Zig Ziglar said,”If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it everytime.”
The opposite extreme is that some people have their head stuck in the clouds. All they do is think of what they want to be, what they want to have, and what would make them happy. But they neglect to take the steps to reach the dream. They are so focused on building the dream in their mind that they forget to gather the bricks they need now.
A goal without a plan is called a WISH.
Achieving success requires work and measurable goals. Every action, lesson, and mistake is a building block. When you ask questions and seek advice, you’re gathering bricks of knowledge. Every time you discuss your goals and dreams with someone close to you, you are building your relationships stronger. You’re building your future one brick at a time.
Bricks you need to succeed.
You need to be dedicated to the work. It’s not always easy or convenient. Your hustle and your determination are what’s going to propel you forward. No motion is backward motion because time is passing by. Be determined to take some action every day, even if it’s a small amount. Move forward.
You need the knowledge to make wise decisions along the way. Don’t rush into something without knowing what to expect. It’s too easy get distracted or hung up on trivial things just by having too little information. Read the books and talk to people who are already succeeding in your dream. They have the experience and knowledge to help you.
You might think you can make it on your own but it’s a lonely road. Utilize the resources you have in the relationships close to you. There’s a wealth of wisdom and alternate points of view that can give you insight that you might not get on your own. Besides, if you travel alone, you’ll get there alone. Don’t leave the people that mean the most to you behind. Involve them in the dream. It’s nicer when you have someone to walk with you.
If you don’t take the time NOW to start gathering your resources, you’re in for disappointment and frustration. Someday, when you think you should be “arriving” at your final destination, you’ll find yourself miles off target.
Dream, yes. But plan more. Define your dream into actionable goals. Seek out the information you’ll need before you rush into a decision. Lean on your relationships. You’ll want them with you to celebrate when reach your final destination.
How are you putting the work into your dream? Where do you need to go to get the information you need to proceed? Who have you invited to go with you? Reply in the comments.
Have you ever wanted something big for your life? You could see the finished product in your mind. But you just didn’t know how to get there. Maybe you want to lose weight. Maybe you want to be wealthy. Maybe you want to start a business.
It’s fun to imagine a dream as reality. But it’s only fun until you realize it’s not going to fall into your lap. Any gain that’s worthwhile is going to take a lot of effort to achieve.
I want to share with you some principles that will help you reach your goals. They will work as soon as you start working.
4 Principles to Winning with Money
In other words: a budget. A budget for me was the hardest part. The word itself was scary. It was restrictive and complicated.The numbers weren’t the problem for me. It was the human aspect. Somehow, what was written down on that piece of paper had to be translated into human action. And not just myself. My husband and my children all have to fit into this budget.
What about the unknown? Something always pops up out of nowhere and demands money. How do you plan for that? Since going through Financial Peace University, we’ve learned how to have an emergency fund and have a budget.
The budget isn’t complicated. You can get a budget form to walk through here. And it’s not restrictive, because we have control over it. If we find that we’re being squeezed a little too tight in some categories, we change it. It gives us a sense of power with our money and keeps us focused on the daily interactions with our money.
This means doing a budget every month. It means that every two weeks, on payday, I go to the bank, take out cash and stuff my envelope system. It means that we put money in savings out of every paycheck. It means we track every dollar. We watch our debt decrease and our savings increase. We don’t take a break from the budget. It’s our game plan.
3. Hard Work
The hardest part in winning with money is saying, “No.” It’s saying no to our wants while we get out of debt. It’s saying no to going out to restaurants. We say no to vacation if it’s not in the budget. It’s saying no to buying food when the grocery budget is used up. That’s hard work. That takes effort to make due with what you have and finding creative ways to get by. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Instead, most of America is overspent and in debt.
This is the hardest principle to deal with. Time is going by at a single rate of speed. You can’t speed it up or slow it down. You never get more of it and you can’t rewind.
Anything worth doing is going to take time. It takes time to lose weight and it takes time to save money. The only variable in the equation is the amount of effort you put into that time.
Are you using your time wisely? Are you being efficient with the time you have? Are you giving it your all? You have to be intentional with your time. Because time is passing by. It doesn’t stop.
The truth is that the pounds to lose or money to save isn’t what’s so daunting. It’s the amount of effort you’re willing to put into it.
It’s a common dream to be wealthy, skinny, or be your own boss. So, why aren’t more people fulfilling their dreams? Because it takes time, hard work, persistence, and focus.
That’s right. It all comes back to you.
Don’t lose another minute. Put your plan in place, commit to it, and roll up your sleeves. Someday, you’ll look back and know it was worth it.
What are you going to do to win in life? What worthwhile goal are you striving for? Share your answer in the comments.
I used to think that money was this living thing that slid in and out of my life on a whim. Sometimes money would come and stay for a while and other times it would leave without warning. I developed this Love-Hate relationship with money. I loved to have it but hated to need it. I called it a “necessary evil” because it seemed like I was fighting the devil to keep it and going through hell without it.
What I’ve since learned is money is a servant. It only does what it’s told. It has no life on its own, only the character that we project on it. Money isn’t evil. The financial demon I needed to conquer was myself and my own destructive tendencies.
Life goes on.
Money doesn’t make or break you. What ever you are, you are. If you’re a conscious and caring citizen, money doesn’t change that. If you’re selfish and impatient, money doesn’t change that either. This is great news, because while we have to take responsibility and control our money, we can’t always control our circumstances. Things like illness, layoffs, car wrecks, break downs, and family emergencies can alter or stop the flow of money in your life. Even the weather can make a difference, if it’s a tornado or hurricane that rips through your community.
I’ve never been through a hurricane and tornadoes are rare in Maine, but we have gone through job loss, car wrecks, and break downs. It’s never fun or easy. And I always have the same prayer, “Why?” But, I’ve learned that you can still breathe in and out when you go through a financial crisis. Life doesn’t come to an end when the money does. Trials and difficult times are just part of the journey of life. No one has it easy all the time.
If you’re going through a financial upheaval, I want to share with you a few things that I’ve learned and some steps you can take right NOW.
I know it’s stressful but it’s not the end of the world. It’s not even the end of your world. It’s a bump in the road. I know it feels like that you were just swallowed up by the biggest pothole ever, but trust me, you will come out on the other side. Breathe and realize that tomorrow is another day.
2. Take stock of your relationships.
The first thing I did was ask myself, “Does our lack of income change my relationship with my husband? Does it change my relationship with my children? Do I have friends that will walk with me through this? Do I believe God knows what’s going on and is control?” I truly hope you’ll find that you have people in your life that love you regardless of your financial situation. Your family doesn’t love you because of your paycheck, they love you because of you. Your relationships are worth far more than six figures annually.
3. Play worst case scenario in your mind.
If we lost our house (which we did), what would happen? I knew we had friends that would never allow our family to sleep on the street. I knew my family and my husband’s parents would open up their homes to us. I knew where the homeless shelter was, but I also knew it would never come to that. What about our belongings? We could sell our stuff if we couldn’t take it with us. It’s just stuff anyway. You can always get more stuff later. Priorities change quickly in crisis situations.
It’s humbling and sometimes embarrassing to admit that you’re struggling. But asking for help is the only way to open the door for assistance. It’s hard for others to ask you about your situation. They don’t want you feel uncomfortable or hurt your pride by offering help. I’ve been through it and seen others go through crisis times when no one would talk about it. It was like the elephant in the room. It was obvious they were struggling, but people felt too forward to offer help to someone who hasn’t asked for it. If you will just admit out loud that you’re going through some tough times, you’ll see people jumping at the opportunity to help in some way. Even if it’s just emotional support.
5. Help yourself.
You can’t expect or even hope that someone else will be able to swoop in and rescue you from the situation you’re in. When my husband lost his job in a bad economy, we lived for 10 months on the minimum wage he could bring in from McDonald’s. I say “lived” loosely. It was enough money to keep the lights on and put gas in the car so he could go to work the next day. What we needed was several thousand dollars to bring our house payments up to date. But I couldn’t expect that at all. We were blessed with monetary gifts, some help with expenses and even Christmas gifts for our children. But we were the only ones who could change our circumstances.
6. Apply for assistance.
When my husband came home with the news of losing his job, I immediately went to the DHHS office to apply for help. I wanted to know that my children would be fed and we’d have medical insurance. When you have food in your stomach and in the cupboards, it helps you focus on the other needs. Now, I don’t recommend state assistance as a way of life. But the reason it’s there is to be a help to those in transition. We’ve had to use it on two different occasions. It gave us the strength to focus on getting some income.
7. Get a job.
This seems like a no-brainer, but it was hard for us. My husband has a masters degree in information technologies. He’s a software engineer. He has many years of experience. He spent a month after losing his job sending out resumes and doing job searches online. Because of the state of the economy and the narrow job field in our area, very few companies were hiring software engineers. And those who did hire, weren’t willing to pay someone with my husband’s level of experience. My patience (and our money) ran out after a month with no income. Any job is better than no job. Any income is better than no income. So, to McDonald’s he went. And they almost didn’t hire him. He was over-qualified. Obviously.
I worked too, cleaning houses. My kids were 5 and 2, so we had to weigh out the cost of child care versus what I could bring in. I worked for a woman who didn’t mind my daughter coming with me to her house. I cleaned for a few hours every day while my son was in kindergarten class.
There is always something you can do. And anything is better than nothing. Don’t be proud.
8. Learn how to do it better.
In the process of finding employment, dealing with debt collectors, and going through foreclosure, we were desperate to find a better way. The kinds of stress and emotional pain we were going through wasn’t something that we EVER wanted to experience again. It seems ironic that in our worst financial mess we discovered Dave Ramsey. Finding a little book on a thrift store shelf set into motion a lifestyle that radically changed our future. Although, I often say it was “too little, too late,” it really was just the right time. We were too far behind to be able to save our house, but we saved our marriage because of that book. We devoured every Dave Ramsey product we could get our hands on. My husband and I were open for the first time to discuss our finances and our dreams together. We redeemed our future with the information we learned during our trial. It gave us hope.
Can I be honest here? At first, I was confused and hurt by the situation we were in. I felt like my husband’s job had been an answer to prayer. And now it was gone. I figured God must have wanted us to be in this mess. It was some sort of punishment and we needed to be taught a lesson. There was no use praying for another job.
I was wrong. My attitude almost ruined me. Because I refused to pray for what we needed, I became distant in my relationship with God. It strained our marriage. I wanted to point fingers and find someone to blame.
When I finally realized that I was headed down a road of emotional and relational poverty, I finally started praying for a change in our lives. Things didn’t turn around immediately, but it changed how I looked at our situation. We did learn some valuable lessons. God brought us through it with a story and a testimony to share.
I believe now that God did want us there, but he didn’t want us to stay there. That trial has completely changed our course. In that 12 month period, we learned God’s ways of handling money. We were given first hand knowledge of the struggles that people all around us go through. Our experience enabled us to help others. We’ve taught many families about being on the same page with their money. We’ve been able to emotionally support those who have gone through financial crisis. And, our current housing and financial situation is the best it’s ever been.
So the final point,
10. Pay it forward.
You won’t always be were you are now. I know it’s hard to see the other side of it, but it really will come to an end. My mother told me, “It won’t always be this bad.” It’s not. If you have the right attitude, you’ll come through it with a little more knowledge, a little more experience, and a little more compassion. Someone else is counting on you to get through your trial so you can help them through theirs. Press on. Don’t quit. You’re going to make it.
Are you going though a financial struggle right now or have you gone through a crisis in the past? Do you feel like you have enough emotional, relational and spiritual support to get you through? If you’d like to share or need some encouragement, leave me a message in the comments.
Somewhere in the world it’s warm. The grass is green and flowers are blooming.
Here in Maine, we are still enjoying temps in the 30’s and 40’s. Granted, the snow is melting and the sun is feeling warmer every day. But winter is so long. And, even though it’s officially spring, it seems like the snow will never disappear.
Several weeks ago, I got it in my head to have a luau party. I just wanted to forget that it was cold and ignore the snow for a few hours at least. I want to pretend I’m on a tropical island with flowers and music and sunshine. So, I decided to go ahead and bring the sunshine to me.
Go For It!
And bring someone with you.
My luau party idea evolved into a church-wide fundraiser dinner. The ladies in my group loved the sound of a tropical luau. They jumped on board and we planned, prepared, and decorated.
I am so proud to introduce to you this free workbook, 10 Things for 12 Months – 120 Ways to Improve Your Life!
This workbook is a checklist goal planner, designed to help you improve every area of your life. It puts YOU in complete control over your future and the person you become. 10 Things is a tool that will help you make measurable progress and keep you moving forward for an entire year!
How will 10 Things for 12 Months help you?
Let me count the ways…
If you live by lists and have a secret passion for check boxes, there are plenty of check boxes to satisfy your need!
If you like to write down quotes to inspire you, you can write a quote to keep you focused every month.
If you believe “readers are leaders”, you can keep track of the books you will read every month that will help you improve your life.
If you want to be in control of your future, this workbook will be your game plan.
If you want to keep track of your progress and be able to see what you’ve accomplished, you will have a year-long history written in these pages.
If you believe that you can make the next 12 months the most valuable and life changing ever, my hope is that this will be the tool to help make that vision a reality.
If you think free things are awesome and I think you’re awesome, then this is a match made in heaven. I want the two of you to be together.
You. Are. Awesome. But awesome can always become more awesome. This is the year you show yourself and the world what you are capable of.
You can start now. No need for New Year’s Day or resolutions. Just put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life and buckle up. Because this is going to be an epic 12 months for you!
How do you get 10 Things for 12 Months?
It’s so easy and free. And so free and easy. Just sign up for the Newsletter, confirm your subscription, and I’ll send you an email with the super-not-so-secret link. Then it’s yours to print and use, not only for this year, but again and again!
I hope you find the 10 Things workbook to be truly helpful. My goal with Coffee and Confidence is all about helping you become more of what you want to be. You are the reason that I write every blog post. So I really want to hear your comments . Please let me know what you think about 10 Things and if you have any suggestions on how it can be improved. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
The first day of spring has come and gone. It’s snowing today.
I don’t know about you, but snow feels like winter to me. Some people like winter. But I’m not one of those people. I don’t like cold. I don’t like wet. I don’t like shoveling snow or driving in it. The calendar said it’s spring. I want spring. Now.
Winters of Life.
I understand there is a reason for every season. But, for sure, I like some way better than others.
There are seasons in life too. And I’m not just talking about childhood, adolescence, adult, and senior years. I’m referring to the seasons of opportunity and adversity that we all go through.
There’s no doubt that we’ve all had some hard winters in life. Economic winters. Spiritual winters. Relational winters. Emotional winters. Times when it seemed to all go wrong and you felt left out in the cold.
Winter is difficult. No doubt. It takes work just to survive.
When I was growing up, we heated with wood. All winter we hauled wood. We started fires and stoked fires. We couldn’t leave the house unattended for more than a few hours for fear of freezing water pipes. It was constant work just to stay warm. Sometimes it felt like winter would never end. And we became weary from the work.
I remember thinking when I was a kid that, someday, I would have a furnace in my house. Then I could just turn up the thermostat and I would never be cold again. It seemed like such a luxury. Well. I have a thermostat and a furnace now. I keep it turned down and I wear sweatshirts and long socks because everything comes with a cost. You will work to stay warm in winter. No matter what your heat source is.
Repair and Prepare.
Winter is also a time of learning and repair. It’s a time to reflect and find out what worked well and what didn’t work well. What brought us to our current winter season in life? What did we lean too heavily on? Where should we have built stronger? That’s not to say that winters can be avoided. You never know when some catastrophe may call your number. We can, however, always learn from our winters.
Farmers use winter to plan the next years crop. They repair and replace equipment so when the weather finally turns favorable, they’re ready to start planting immediately. If they have done well in the previous harvest, then they will lean on their stores to get them through the winter. If their harvest wasn’t good, they are planning how to make the next year’s harvest better.
Plan for your next springtime. The next opportunity that you have, be ready to jump on it and take full advantage. Don’t be forced to work with broken equipment. Use your winter time to get stronger, better, and wiser. To learn from your mistakes so thoroughly that you never have to repeat them again. And not only you, but share ever lesson you have learned with someone else so that they also have the strength and wisdom to get through their winters. Build strong foundations and sturdy relationships to see you through the next winter. When it comes.
Are You Ready?
So, the calendar says that spring is here. Am I ready for it? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll take this snow day as another opportunity to reflect on my past and plan for my future. My springtime is coming. And so is yours. Be happy for one more day to invest in yourself. Winter never lasts forever. Get ready.
Are you in a winter in your life right now? What lessons will you take away from it? What opportunities do you see coming your way? Comment here.