Out With The Old, In With The New… Goodbye 2017 & Hello 2018!

Good Morning! Happy Sunday! Can you believe that today is the last day of the year?! A whole year gone by! Where did this whole entire year go in the blink of an eye? If your year was anything similar to ours, it may have seemed that the year simply blew by way too quickly. This year was a wonderful yet difficult one, full of many different events and emotions, both good and bad.

With the way last year ended and the beginning of this year started, we weren’t sure what the year was going to bring us, or how we were going to make it through the year.

Our family suffered horrible losses starting in early January, all of them within one week of one another. That also bringing about memorial services and funerals. Even though the loss of family was hard, things started to look up after January. We celebrated new job opportunities, weddings, Easter, birthdays, packing meals with Feed My Starving Children to provide meals all over the world, I rescued 3 baby racoons from a sewer hole at our apartments on my birthday, my husband and I celebrated our first anniversary as husband and wife, I got to experience Alive Fest for the first time and sit ON STAGE for Needtobreathe, my husband celebrated another birthday and we had an amazing vacation in Hocking Hills. This year the holidays were pretty low key, and we enjoyed that instead of rushing around to 10 different places and only getting to stay a short amount of time.

In addition to losing family this year, we also had friendships that shifted. Some friendships were lost in our lives, but we also gained new friendships and grew closer to friends that we weren’t as close with last year. As my husband and I reflect back on all this past year has brought us, we are extremely grateful for the people God has placed in our lives and for the relationships that he has helped grow and strengthen this last year.

As we prepare to head into another year, my husband and I think it is extremely important to review your last year and see where you made progress, where you can look back and have gratitude for the things you had this last year and see areas where you drifted this last year. Then you can head into the new year with goals to have health in different areas of your life, you can begin to take initiative for making progress throughout the next year in the different areas of your life, and you can make correction for the places that you have drifted in the last year of life. So below, my husband and I are going to share a resource with you, that if you want to copy it and use it to help reflect on the last year, you can do that. There are also some questions and a reminder to set goals for next year for each area of health. Some of them may not apply to you (singleness doesn’t apply to my husband and I, nor does parenting, at the moment, but parenting will apply one day)

(S/O to Pastor Ryan Rodeman for creating this easy to use template for everyone to use)

A Guide To Refocus for the Year

Take Time To Refocus

Keep these three points in mind as you look back on the past year:

1) Start with prayer. Prayer is key. Ask God to show you what he wants you to see as you look back

2) Reflection: What has happened over the past year? Take time to get above your life. Start by writing down major events in the categories below

3) Set goals for each area. Based on your reflection, you may find some areas need more attention than others.

As you go through this process, two things should happen:

  1. When you begin to see the areas you have made progress, stop to thank God for his work in your life. It is good to celebrate the victories he has given us.
  2. Inevitably areas will emerge where you have drifted. Don’t let this get you down. Ask the Lord to help you pursue health in the coming year.

SPIRITUAL HEALTH

–          Am I interacting with God’s word more or less than the year before?

–          When was the last time I read through the whole bible?

–          Have I been praying more or less than last year?

–          Am I praying daily?

–          Do I have a closer relationship with Christ than a year ago?

–          Are there areas of my life that I have not given Jesus control over?

–          What did God teach me over the last year?

–          Am I more motivated to become like Jesus today than I was a year ago?

–          How is my faithfulness in attending church services?

Set Goals for Spiritual Health

FAMILY LEADERSHIP

–          What’s our culture like as a family?

–          What are our strengths?

–          What are our weaknesses?

–          Are we a thankful family?

–          Is service part of our family?

–          Are we an active family?

–          Have we worked on our family this year?

–          Has entertainment or something else taken too high a priority in our lives?

Set Goals for Family Leadership

MARRIAGE

–          How is our marriage?

–          Did we make any intentional investments in our marriage this year?

–          Do we still date each other?

–          Are we protecting our marriage?

–          Is God at the center of our relationship?

–          How is our sex life?

Set Goals for Marriage

FRIENDSHIPS

–          Who are the key friends that I have?

–          Are they good friends?

–          Do they encourage me in my relationship with Christ?

–          Have I been a good friend?

–          Do I encourage them in their relationship with Christ?

Set Goals for Friendships

PHYSICAL HEALTH

–          How has my health changed over the last year?

–          Was there major change in my health?

–          Did I gain weight?

–          Am I more or less fit?

–          Have I had a physical?

–          Did I consistently exercise?

–          Have I been avoiding getting something checked out by a doctor?

Set Goals for Physical Health

FINANCIAL HEALTH

–          How has my financial landscape changed?

–          Did I incur any more debt this year?

–          How was my giving this year?

–          How was my saving this year?

–          Has my income changed?

–          Have I been faithful to God in this area of my life?

Set Goals for Financial Health

SINGLENESS

–          How am I doing in my singleness?

–          Am I viewing it as a gift?

–          Am I fully giving myself to building God’s Kindgom?

–          Am I being faithful to God in this area of my life?

Set Goals for Singleness 

PARENTING

–          How is my relationship with each child?

–          How is our connection?

–          Did I make intentional investments into their lives?

–          What are the passions that I see in their lives?

–          What are their gifts and abilities?

–          What might God have in mind for their lives?

–          Are there areas of their lives that I might need to come alongside them and help them

Set Goals for Parenting

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Ending the Paycheck to Paycheck Life & Living Financially Free

Alright folks, let’s be honest; if you’re anything like my husband and myself, you have probably had your fair share of weeks just hoping you would make it by until payday and maybe even having to count your lose change just to scrape up some money for gas in your car. If we’re being totally honest and transparent, my husband and I have definitely been at that point at one time or another. After living paycheck to paycheck for a while, we both decided that enough was enough, and we sought out some wise council from some financially savvy friends of ours. They gave us some mind blowing information… It was then we discovered Financial Peace University and the beginning of financial freedom for us. Now FPU is not fool proof and it does take dedication and discipline. You have to live like no one else so that later you can live like no one else – Dave Ramsey.

So August of 2016 we began our journey to financial freedom. We used extra cash we earned towards paying off some smaller debts that we had. Since August 2016 we have paid off about $10,000 in debt. Now mind you, my husband and I aren’t rich and we don’t make a lot of money. In fact, we make combined what most people make on a single income. So how does the journey to financial peace and freedom work? By following the 7 baby steps. If you want to learn all of the baby steps and how to apply them, we highly recommend looking into taking a financial peace class of your own. It’s the best $100 investment we have ever made and will ever make. For now we are simply going to talk about what we have done so far.

As of right now, my husband and I are currently working on baby step 2: Debt Snowball. With the debt snowball, you pay your debts in order from smallest to largest. Start with your smallest and pay it off as fast as you can. Once you have it paid off, you take the monthly payment you were making and apply it to the monthly payment you are making on your next smallest debt.

Ex: medical – $389 – $25/mo
dental – $471 – $25/mo
credit card – $1,864 – $115/mo
car – $8,976 – $275/mo

Once you pay off the medical bill, then you apply $25/mo in addition to the $25 you are paying on the dental, thus paying $50/mo on your dental bill until it is completely gone. So on and so forth. You do this until all your debts are gone. The key to making this successful and work is to also do a monthly budget in addition to using an ‘envelope system’ things that we will only pay cash for such as groceries, gas in our car, tithing, a car repair fund, etc. We make up a budget based on the worst month we have had pay wise. If we create our budget and we have extra money left over at the end of the month, we decide at that point what to do with it, usually putting it towards debt. On payday, I sit down with my husband and I take the amount of each paycheck, add them together, and then look at our budget and see what things need taken care of before our next payday and then start deducting things from the total pay, until the amount reaches zero. In essence, my husband and I “TELL our money where to go instead of wondering where it went”. Using the envelope system is key because once the money is gone, that’s all there is, there is no more, unless we look and see where we can move money from one envelope to another. We don’t use credit cards and we don’t put bills off so we can do other things. We prioritize what is most important, and if we have something coming up like a wedding, birthday, etc., we budget for that as well, setting aside cash in an envelope just for that reason.

Like I said earlier, we have paid off about $10,000 since last August and about $6,500 of that was paid since we started and completed the class in February. By this time next year we will have paid off an additional $15,000 in debt and then we can tackle those pesky student loans, hopefully paying off about $100,000 in three years. Impossible? Not if you really dedicate yourself and work hard at becoming debt free. People have told us it’s impossible, and don’t get me wrong, we have had our set backs and things that we have had to work around, but it all breaks down to being dedicated, disciplined and working through whatever comes your way and always keeping the end goal in mind.

Check out the class for yourself! Visit http://www.daveramsey.com and check out ‘classes’ and then click ‘financial peace university’ and then click get started. There are classes everywhere happening all the time. It’s always a great time to get started!

Stay tuned for our blog post next week when we talk about Natural Family Planning, how we came to the decision to use it and how it has impacted our marriage so far.