Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half

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The average American household spends an insane amount of their paycheck on groceries. How can this be? Among the many problems that contribute to this, here are a few:

1. Prices are on the rise -

We are all well-aware of the constant inflation rate, and our groceries are no exception. Prices continue to rise, and families are caught trying to cook meals at home while overspending in their grocery budgets every month.

2. “Healthy” is expensive -

Gone are the days where living on the land was the most affordable thing to do. We now find ourselves walking into health food stores shocked by the prices we see on a simple box of oatmeal.

3. Time is of the essence -

In many households, both parents carry their own jobs. This leaves less and less time for couponing, saving, and taking the time to plan out the trip to the grocery store.

In order to truly “cut your grocery bill in half” you will need to take a few important steps. Don’t worry … they are easy! Before you know it, you will see the savings start to grow.

If you can begin to change this one area of your spending, you will see major improvements in your overall budget.

Given that this is one of the biggest spending categories in American budgets, it’s important that we take control of this area.

Here Are 5 Things to Do Today to Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half: 

1. Pick One Day of the Week to Plan

On that day, you will only need to carve out an hour or less. Make sure you stick to that day every week, or else you will run out of time and start buying meals on a whim – which means more spending.

On this day, you will need 2 things – 1.) The sale flyer for the store you shop at and … 2.) Your grocery store’s mobile app with downloadable coupons

From here, write down a list of every day’s meals – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you want to start slow, simply write down dinners for the week.

Look at what’s on sale, compare it to coupons in your app (if there’s a sale AND a coupon you’ve hit the jackpot!) and plan your meals around those sales.

I typically plan Mon-Thurs meals because I know we will be with family or friends on Friday night. Do what works with your schedule.

Store your “list” in your phone along with your downloaded coupons and you can do this shopping trip whenever your schedule allows.

2. Shop 1 Day of the Week

Get all of your shopping done on that one day, according to your list. This should be very easy for you to do and should take less than an hour, but make sure you carve out the time for it. Think of the time you will save avoiding the store 3-4 times a week like most families! (especially during the after-work rush hour!)

The only time I deviate from the list is if I can find the store brand product that beats the price of my sale ad & coupon price. This happens on occasion, so I will just go with the store brand. That will save you BIG in the long run.

3. Pay Cash

Maybe you haven’t jumped on the “envelope system” bandwagon, but you CAN make a big difference in your budget by simply paying cash for groceries.

There’s is something innately frugal about paying cash: you know exactly what you have, you can’t spend any more than that, and you are sure you will stay within your budget.

The magic starts to happen when you realize that with this fixed amount, you can get creative in many different ways. Eventually you will see yourself buying A LOT for a little.

4. Plan for Days You Don’t Want to Cook

Throughout the week, unexpected things will happen. You will find yourself getting lazy, and that favorite chinese takeout restaurant sounds AMAZING.

So how do you combat this? Simply plan for those days.

Whether this means store-bought pizza (less expensive than takeout pizza), or freezer-friendly microwave meals that take seconds to prepare … plan for those days.

Here’s a simple comparison:

Cost of chinese takeout for 2 ppl = $20 – $25

Cost of “Pf Changs” refrigerated takeout meal for two at the grocery store = $5

**thats 4x-5x the savings!**

Thursday happens to be “that day” for me. I never want to cook on Thursdays! Maybe it’s because Friday is so close, or maybe it’s just because I can’t handle the monotony of cooking one more night, but Thursday is definitely my week spot. Because of this, I have built into the list either a pre-made meal, refrigerated pizza dough, or something very convenient to make like quesadillas.

5. Make Your Grocery Budget Reasonable

One of the biggest mistakes budgeters make is creating a spending category that is too strict. This can make you feel like a failure, as you will often miss the mark.

Decide on a reasonable amount to spend that you won’t feel “deprived” by at the end of the week. If you feel too deprived, you will end up “binge spending” at the end of the week – similar to what happens to people on a diet. They are deprived from their favorite foods only to binge on pizza Friday night!

Make sure this doesn’t happen to you, and create a solid spending category that you can consistently meet each week.

Put these 5 tips into practice today and you will see MAJOR improvements in that grocery bill!

- Faithful with Finances

What it Takes to Live Below Your Means

loose changeYou want the hard truth? The absolute hard truth?

Living below your means is NOT easy.

You will have to make sacrifices … on many occasions.

You will feel like giving up.

You will take each purchase seriously … even when it’s your favorite Starbucks drink.

You will want to complain.

You will feel deprived at times.

But in the end … you will GROW to love this lifestyle.

You will see your bank account slowly grow.

You will feel a huge relief from stress.

Your heart and mind will begin to seek God.

You will let go of the material, and look towards the immaterial.

You will appreciate the little things.

You will care more about the people around you … not the things around you.

You will meet your goals.

You will banish debt.

You will release contentment.

It can happen to you … yes you!

The only way to start is to start today.

Think about the sacrifices you will have to make, but more importantly, think about the rewards.

- Faithful with Finances 

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A Little Reminder …

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Never forget to count your blessings, remember there are others who have much less than you, and give God the glory for what you do have.

- Faithful with Finances

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Your Kids on a Budget: a Match Made in Heaven

Is it possible to teach our kids about how to honor God with money at a young age? Will they even grasp the concepts? Is it worth the effort?

There are many ways to get your kids started on the right path, and it is our duty as moms and grandmothers to start instilling God’s principles early on in their hearts. We are all familiar with the Proverbs 22:6 verse that states, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” Our hope through all of this is to train our children in such a way that they will long to glorify God when they are older, and not think twice about it!

So where do we begin?

Here are some simple and easy steps to get your kids on the right track, and hey, you might even learn in the process!

Step 1: Teach Your Children about Money Management

Start by setting up an envelope system with them. Determine what their needs might be, and make a “best guess” of what they would spend in each category. You will learn through the process what their actual spending might be. Remember, this is not about “perfection” in handling money, but more about the process of teaching your child how to become responsible.

If you are working with a younger child, start out by giving them envelopes of “play money” that will last throughout the year. Whenever they want something, they can take it out of their envelope of play money for that category, and you can hand them real money in return. Pretty soon, you will begin to see them really consider their purchases, and decide what to hold back on, or what to spend on.

If you are working with older kids, the same principles will apply, but instead, you are giving them real money. Set up a checking and/or savings account with them, and teach them in the process how it all works. Give them the chance to budget through the account. Also show them how to keep track of where their money is going, and give them the chance to do this themselves.

Step 2: Teach Your Children about Giving and Saving

It is important to instill early on in your child’s life that giving is extremely important. Although they may be reluctant at first, their hearts will eventually turn to joyful giving, especially if they are able to experience the joy of the Lord’s work being done. One simple way to do this with your child is to take 10% of whatever they might earn, (chores around the house, allowance, or a job), and give that away. One way to really involve your child in the giving process is to watch what interests them. Do they love being around other children? Donate to a ministry that works to provide food and shelter for other children. Take another 10%, and put that into savings. This will teach them the importance of saving right away, and not wait until the last moment when there is nothing left to save.

Overall, give your children a reason to thank the Lord for what He has done. Continually remind them that the money they might receive is not theirs, it all belongs to the Lord.

 

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Your Challenge: Be Completely Opposite of the World

“Given a choice, most people would choose to be rich. 

They dream about inheriting a million dollars, 

even if none of their relatives have that much. 

They spend money they often can’t afford 

to lose on lottery tickets, hoping to win the big jackpot. 

They play slot machines and gamble at casino tables, 

sure they can double and triple their money. 

As Alexander Pope wrote, ‘Hope springs eternal.’ 

Even when people win or inherit money, they want more. 

No matter how much money a person has, it’s rarely enough. 

Millionaires confess they don’t feel rich enough, 

although you’d probably change places with one any time. 

Surprisingly, many lottery winners go bankrupt 

or encounter serious financial problems 

within five years of winning huge jackpots 

because they don’t know how to handle wealth, 

and then they need more. 

It’s a vicious cycle.”

Everything the Bible Says about Money 

As you reflect on the words written in this book, take a minute to examine the intentions in your own heart. 

Here at Faithful with Finances, we are big on doing the complete opposite of what the world tells us. 

The world is pretty convinced that you can “get rich quick” and “more money will solve all of your problems” – when we as Christians know this can’t be true.

God causes trials and tribulations to enter into our lives for a reason, and that includes money problems! 

When you find yourself entrapped in thoughts of wealth and wanting more, think specifically about why God has placed you in the situation you’re in. 

He has you here for a reason, and He doesn’t necessarily want you to escape your circumstances, but instead, to grow through them. 

Today, focus on being the “complete opposite” of the world. Don’t go after false sources of money and spending. Think about one way you can put this into practice…and go do it! 

- Faithful with Finances

Giving to God First

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Many times we hear the phrase “give to God first”, yet many of us don’t realize what that actually looks like in our lives.

Giving to God first ultimately means putting Him in the “#1″ position to everything you earn.

Whatever you have decided in your heart to give, don’t hesitate to make that happen right as you receive it.

When you decide to put God at the bottom of the list, you can begin to loose sight of your priorities. Many people will pay all of their bills, their mortgage, their credit cards, and come to find in the end that there is nothing left to give.

If you are in this position, we encourage you to give to God from the “first of all your produce”. In other words – the first of your income.

Proverbs 3:9-10

“Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.”

No matter how small, or how insignificant it might be, make sure you give God that #1 priority spot starting today!

- Faithful with Finances

Making God A Part of Your Everyday Choices

We are posed with choices every single day.

Should we chose this route over that route? Cream and sugar in our coffee, or black? Take the subway or drive? Chicken or fish for dinner?

Little do we know, we make a million choices each and every day, most of them subconsciously.

How can we make God a part of those everyday choices, and ultimately make Him the center of our thought life?

The Bible’s answer is very clear… “pray continually”.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

In this verse we are told to do 3 things:

1. Rejoice

2. Pray

3. Give Thanks

These three things should be a part of our every day lives as Christians, and in them, we learn to never take God’s faithfulness for granted.

Let’s think about what this would look like in a normal every-day situation. Say…driving to work?

We can CHOSE to drive to work aimlessly, listening to some mediocre song on the radio…or we can CHOSE to do these three steps. It would look a little something like this:

Step 1: “Lord, thank you for this new day! What a great Savior I have in you, you always seem to take care of me, no matter what the day throws at me!”

Step 2: “Help me to give my worries to you today. As I go to this job day-in and day-out, present an opportunity for me to share your love with someone else.”

Step 3: “Thank you for your constant and true blessings in my life. Thank you for my family, for this job, for this car. You have provided for me and I am beyond thankful.”

If you make it habit to consciously think these types of thoughts in your everyday life – trust me – big things will happen!

One amazing attribute of our heavenly Father is His love for us. Think about it for a second. He doesn’t have to talk to us, to answer our prayers, to love us in amazing ways. He doesn’t have to do any of it, but He choses to!

Give back to Him through rejoicing, praying and thanking Him for what He has done in your life today.

In what ways do you make God a part of your every day life?

Wanting More

Most of you have seen this type of commercial. The AT&T representative interviews kids and asks them simple, funny questions. What’s even funnier? Their answers!

This one struck me in particular. The AT&T guy goes on to say, “Who thinks more is better than less?” Surprise surprise, every single kid raises their hand!

The cute little girl goes on to ramble about “more” being WAY better than less, and how sometimes your parents say you can’t have more!

Although this commercial is meant to be humorous, it is also meant to resonate with the mass majority that MORE is what we really need. We need MORE money, MORE cars, MORE possessions. It’s a never-ending spiral that can consume a person’s entire life.

So what should we as believers take away from this?

We can’t give in to the spiral. Most of the Christian life is counter-cultural, and this area is no exception.

The Lord teaches us a much different concept…contentment.

Hebrews 13:5

“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 every forsake you.’ “

Proverbs 30:8

“Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with the food that is my portion.”

Today, think about the things in your life that cause you discontentment. Are you not happy with your savings? With your house? With your clothes?

Choose today to think about what God HAS given you, and what He HAS blessed you with.

What areas do you struggle with? How have you overcome them? Leave us a comment below!

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How to Handle Worry

 

Worry can consume even the most steadfast and faithful servants. God never intended for worry to enter our lives. He loves us and steadily takes care of us…worry is not a part of His plan!

 

Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 

His desire is for Christians to FULLY trust in Him, to give Him their complete confidence. The sad truth is that many of us fall short of this.

 

Here are a few simple ways to put TRUST into action…and worry in the backseat!

 

1. Start Your Day with an Honest Prayer

 

Give the Lord your worries at the start of every day. Whatever it might be. Your mortgage, your bills, your kid’s upcoming college tuition. He will listen, and He does care. Give it to Him in the utmost honesty, because He already knows how you feel…before you even pray about it!

 

2. Deliberately Give Your Problems to Him

 

At the end of that prayer, make sure you go out of your way to say, “Lord, this is now in your hands.” Give it specifically to Him, because in the end, He is the one that will take care of it! His heart is to watch over you, and going this extra step to give Him the praise will only cause your relationship with Him to grow even stronger.

 

3. Meditate on Scripture that Causes You to Trust

 

One of the best ways to guard against ungodly emotions and feelings is to hide scripture in your heart. Have it ready on the tip of your tongue so you can fight whatever emotional battle comes your way. Meditate on scriptures that specifically cause YOU to trust in the Lord, and that minister to YOUR needs.

 

In case you need a little help getting started, here are a few of our favorites:

John 14:27

 

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”

 

Philippians 4: 6-7

 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

Psalm 55:22

 

“Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

 

Start each new day giving the Lord your praise and He will turn back around and bless you for it. Never forget His promises and find peace in His great, almighty plan!

How do you combat against worry? Do you have a specific way to give your trust over to Him? Share it with us below!

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Meet Tony and Carin

 

Tony and Carin have spent most of their lives in the financial industry, and now they are reaching out and sharing their time-tested wisdom on the subject of giving and finances. Their ministry was inspired by those in the church body that needed guidance and direction on how to honor the Lord with their resources. Together they have authored the book “Faithful with Much” and continue to inspire others to cross over boundaries in their giving. Faithful with Finances is an outpouring of this same passion, a ministry born from a desire to educate the church body on what God actually thinks about money, and what He wants us to do with it. Join them on their journey by either picking up a copy of their book, or bringing their workshop to your church today. 

Conquer Emotional Shopping!

I happen to have a little problem, and I’m sure many of you might share this with me…but from time to time…I give into emotional shopping!

It doesn’t matter what happened to me that day, or what is going on around me, but if I simply go inside my favorite store (cough cough Marshall’s, Nordstrom Rack, TJ Maxx) I become a very happy girl.

Now I’ve heard of many women out there who don’t enjoy shopping all that much, but basically, that concept is very foreign to me! I LOVE to shop, and it makes me forget about everything else and just enjoy the beauty and fun I see all around me.

The question is, am I doing the right thing here by giving in to my desires? Probably not. Are there other ways to feel better in the world? Probably yes.

So in case any of you out there suffer from this same syndrome of emotional shopping, I thought I would help you by giving a few hints at what you can do to conquer it, and how you can stop finding emotional release in something, shall I say, hollow?

Here are 5 ways I conquer emotional shopping, I hope they will help you too!

  1. Re-Do Your Own Closet (de-clutter, organize, and display)
  2. Take up a productive and fun hobby
  3. Look through a style/fashion magazine
  4. Spend time with a girlfriend (be happy, don’t vent on her!)
  5. If you must, window shop (aka DON’T buy anything!)

There are days when you will just want to fix yourself, feel better, and move on with your life, but shopping is not always the best answer for this. Beyond working through the problems of the day, just smile and have fun with those around you. Joy and blessings can be found in every day if you just look for them!

By: Erika Pizzo

 

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10 Free Things You Should Do TODAY

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Let’s start out this Monday with a list of actions to make this day a great one. And yes, they are free! Ever heard the saying “some of the best things in life are free”? I believe it, and I know it to be true. Try doing at least half of the things on this list, and your day will be brighter, full of love, and encouraging to others.

Happy Monday, and have a wonderful week!

1.       Smile at a stranger

2.       Bake a batch of cookies

3.       Tell someone you love them

4.       Ask “how are you?” and mean it

5.       Read a Book

6.       Sing a Hymn or Song

7.       Bring Coffee to a Friend

8.       Thank God for His blessings

9.       Look for the good in people

10.   Laugh when you mess up

Life is way too short for us to spend it looking at the negative, ugly, and disheartening side of things. So today, let’s go throughout our day with joy in our hearts. I promise you, it’s contagious, and before you know it, everyone around you will be smiling too.

Psalm 100:2

“Serve the Lord with gladness, Come before Him with joyful singing.”

Are You Pretending?

Make no mistake about it: we live in an EXTREMELY materialistic world. We are surrounded by nice cars, big expensive houses, beautiful clothing, flat-screen HD tv’s, tempting advertisements, and pressure to become “filthy rich”. Most Christians would rather not talk about this, they like to put this fact to the side, and simply blend into their surroundings without getting too caught up in the madness.

But let’s talk about this, and not discard what might be an important thing to consider for you and your family.

I titled this post “are you pretending” because I came across a verse this morning that kind of struck me with an uneasy feeling. Maybe it will strike you too…

Proverbs 13:7

There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth.

In case you haven’t noticed, many people pretend. You see your neighbor driving a brand new BMW, move into a bigger house, or even tote a new Louis Vuitton bag. Chances are, this is an object bought for status, for a remote inner pride, and for a partial hope of acceptance.

Of course, there are people who can afford material things like this, but for the most part, many people cannot.

Just because these facts might be true, doesn’t mean we should give into judging. By no means should we catch ourselves in that web, and cast a judgmental eye on our neighbor.

I am telling you all of this because I want you to be careful. Careful of what might tempt you, careful of ways in which you might be “pretending”. Personally, I struggle with this A LOT. I think my life would be “perfect” if I had a certain amount in the bank. I would feel secure, better protected, and free to live my life the way I wanted to. It has been a long, slow process for the Lord to grow me in this area. Daily He reminds me that we were put on this earth for something MUCH greater than acquiring wealth, His plans are beyond what we might think is “perfect” for ourselves.

Look more closely at this verse. The second part describes the complete opposite. A wealthy man pretending to be poor…But why?

This man has the wealth to buy the bigger house, the fast car, the nice clothing. Why would he settle for less?

This is where the meat of the situation comes in…humility.

What if you had $1,000,000 handed to you today? What would you do with it? Would you go out right away and start spending?

Would it be crazy to say that most people shouldn’t have that amount handed to them? I know that wouldn’t be good for me! The Lord has caused me to grow so much closer to Him the moment He took away financial security. Why would you want to miss out on that growth?

I am reminded time and time again by God’s word that His provision and His guidance are much different from society’s status quo. It is His voice we need to listen to, yet we often listen to the woes and pressures of the world.

Today I want you to think about this verse. Which way are you leaning? Are you practicing true humility? Think about what that would look like in your life right now. Maybe you would live drastically different…

 

By: Erika Pizzo

Talking About Money with Your Spouse

It can be such an uncomfortable topic can’t it? You want to work more at paying off your debt, buy something big, or simply stop spending so much. These things can be hard to talk to your spouse about, and what usually happens is silence, or arguments, or unwanted, hurtful words are exchanged.

So what is the right way to talk to your husband about what’s on your mind? How do you approach him without going down the road of bitterness and strife?

Understandably, the Bible calls us to be “peacemakers”, not centers of conflict, not instigators, and not “the devil’s advocate”. I describe this as understandably, because if you really think about it, this calling makes a lot of sense.

Romans 12:18

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

Sure, it is our first instinct to be the instigator, to go against what he says, and to challenge what he might think is right. But instead of spending our time pushing back, maybe it’s time we try to see the other side.

How exactly do we approach this topic in a loving way? Especially when all you expect to hear is a “no” or “not right now”. Well, hopefully the answers I give you today will help you see the other side, help you appreciate what your husband says, and help you encourage him in the right direction.

To say the least, I have no grounds to give marital advice. I am just coming to you as a woman humbled by God’s ability to turn situations around for His glory when I meant it for my own gain. I also love to learn from His Word, and I know you do too. So let’s try together to make a difference in the way we treat our husbands, and the way we approach this very dainty and hard to discuss topic!

  1. Pray Before Speaking – We all do it, don’t we? We talk about something with our spouse we haven’t even thought through in our own hearts. Remember something, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hashing out important issues with your spouse, but it will be infinitely better if you approach it from a fear of the Lord. Pray about what’s on your heart, ask the Lord to reveal your sin that might be hindering your decision. Chances are, just praying about it will humble you to see things you haven’t seen before.
  2. Don’t Assume You Know How They Feel – Anyone that’s ever been married can probably relate to this one. Spouses often spend a good chunk of their time assuming. They assume their partner will be mad, irritated, happy, overjoyed, or withdrawn about a particular thing when they haven’t taken the time to listen or even approach. Throw your assumptions out the window, come into the conversation with an open heart to hear their questions, concerns, hopes, and fears.
  3. Always be Joyful- Let’s face it, you might be praying, hoping, wishing, and wanting to have something so badly…but he says NO. You have to be able to deal with that. God never gives us an excuse to not be joyful, and no matter how defeated you might feel, it takes joy to move on to the next day and to still love your spouse with reckless abandonment. So approach each situation with this in mind, “no matter what he says, I will still be joyful and love him regardless.”

Of course, these kinds of things apply to so many areas, not just with the topic of money. In the end, it is all about creating a loving and genuine atmosphere that allows for mistakes, tough conversations, and heartfelt responses. Don’t give up on talking about money because it’s too hard. I was reminded of how difficult this life can be this morning when I read Matthew 7:13-15 which tells us, “13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

Let’s choose the narrow gate, it always leads to a more meaningful life…

 

More Verses to Consider:

Proverbs 19:11

“A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger,
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”

James 4:1

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?”

 

Inspired to Spend More Time with God

After talking to a few of my friends, and hearing the amazing growth the Lord is doing in their lives, I decided to take a challenge.

This challenge is one I have been thinking about for awhile, and the reason I am telling you this is because I want you to take this journey with me.

Spiritual and emotional growth with the Lord comes from a very important source; daily reading His word and growing in His loving commands.

We all have busy schedules, and we all seem to have a million things to do, but I know that if you decide today to make this a priority, you will. Whatever you choose in your mind to put at the top of the list that day will get done, that’s just how we work. Whatever we hold to be important, interesting, or desirable is what we decide to do.

So I’m asking you to take a journey with me through God’s word. It’s a big commitment, but I have complete faith that you can do it. And who knows, some of you might already be doing this!

Here’s the breakdown:

* Read 30 min to 1 hour ever day (it can be broken up into 10 min sections or whatever is easiest for you)

* Reading includes 10 chapters per day

* Get through the entire Bible in 250 days

The reason that I was drawn to this plan in particular is because every day you are reading different parts of God’s Word. You start out reading Romans, Acts, Psalms, Proverbs, Genesis, and even Isaiah. Your knowledge and depth in the Lord’s word will grow infinitely in this way, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for you if you take this challenge with me.

So how do you sign up?

There are a couple ways (or maybe more that I don’t know about) that you can start this plan.

  1. Download the Youversion App, and under “reading plans” you’ll find “Prof Horner’s Bible Reading Plan”. Set it up to start on the day you want, and as you go along, you can check off each chapter you read!
  2. Download or find the “John MacArthur” reading plan that will also take you through 10 chapters per day

All of you that are reading my posts continue to inspire me every day, and I want to take this challenge with you because I know you will keep me accountable to read even when it’s hard to find the time.

If you want to do this with me, leave a comment below and I will be sure to pray for you on this journey and keep posting on updates of particular passages and verses that can inspire us all.

Do you have a reading plan you are already on? Share it with us, we are here to support and love you the whole way!

 

By: Erika Pizzo

Think

Have You Ever Heard the Song…

“Think Good Thoughts” by Colbie Caillat? The reason I ask is because I was cleaning my house the other day, and it came on Pandora. Realizing that this wasn’t just another pop song with repetitive lyrics, I listened up and found a few things I could really relate to.

In case you haven’t heard it yet, it’s goes like this…

I’m just gonna say it,
There’s no using in delaying,
I’m tired of the angry hanging out inside me,

So I’ll quiet down the devil,
I’m gonna knock him with a shovel,
And I’ll burry all my troubles underneath the rubble

When I’m alone in my dark dark room,
I have to tell myself to,

Think good thoughts,
Think good thoughts,
Imagine what the world would be if we would just,
Think good thoughts,
Stop the bad from feeding,

I won’t let the negativity turn me into my enemy,
Promise to myself that I won’t let it get the best of me,
That’s how I want to be
Na, na, na, na

I’m not saying that it’s easy,
Especially when I’m moody,
I might be cursing like a sailor till I remind myself I’m better,

Cause words can be like weapons,
Oh and you use them, you regret them,
Oh but I’m not gonna let them take away my heaven

And when I start feeling blue,
I remember to tell myself to,

Think good thoughts,
Think good thoughts,
Imagine what the world would be if we would just,
Think good thoughts,
Stop the bad from feeding,

I won’t let the negativity turn me into my enemy,
Promise to myself that I won’t let it get the best of me,
That’s how I want to be

I just think rain on a summer night,
Stars filling up the sky,
Sunshining on my face,
Making a secret wish,
Finding my happiness,
That always makes me hold my head up high,
I wanna hold my head up high,

I wanna think good thoughts (Imagine what the world would be if we would just think good thoughts)
I wanna think good thoughts (wouldn’t that be something?)
I won’t let the negativity turn me into my enemy,
Promise to myself that I won’t let it get the best of me,
That’s how I want to be
Na, na, na, na

Ok, so it is a little repetitive, but still – look a little deeper…

For once someone is saying that you can’t indulge in the negative thoughts that you want to. She is talking about denying herself, doing what goes against her natural instinct.

Of course, we have a different motivation to “think good thoughts” right? Our motivation lies in Christ.

When we “just think rain on a summer night” or admire “stars filing up the sky” we have one thing in mind…the awesome beauty of our Creator.

As women, it can be so hard to fill our heads with positive thoughts, because we are often given over to worry, control, and anxiety. Yet without this, we can get lost in the sadness and heartache of the world around us.

Let’s take a hint from Ms. Caillat, and “think good thoughts” today and for the rest of this week. Are you with me?

 

By: Erika Pizzo

A Life Purposed for Good

Many of us have read, heard, and listened to sermons that include Romans 8:28, “28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Yet over and over again, this beautiful depiction of our sovereign God has been taken out of context. You’ve seen it right? Someone will quote this verse and say, “See, you have a great life ahead of you, nothing to worry about!”

When in reality, this verse is implying and quoting much more than a happy life. In contrast, it is asserting that we may live a life of pain, heartache, and losing what we love the most.

I respect and admire the way Rick Warren put this,

“God’s plan for your life involves all that happens to you – including your mistakes, your sins, and your hurts. It includes illness, debt, disasters, divorce, and death of loved ones… If you will give God all your distasteful, unpleasant experiences, he will blend them together for good.”

The closer you come to the throne of your Savior, the more you will begin to realize that His light and His love works with all of your circumstances, and yes, all of your pain, to mold it into something beautiful.

I firmly believe no matter how hard we try to understand God’s plan behind everything, we will never truly know until we see Him in eternity. So why spend our lives guessing? We already know that He has given us a reason to wake up every morning, for Him, so let’s not waste our lives trying to figure out WHY He has put us in these circumstances.

God is working behind the scenes. Like a director who knows exactly why you need to be in that place, when the light hits you at a certain angle, to read that line. He’s got it all figured out, and there is no need to take it into our hands, because the moment we do, we forfeit the work of a sovereign Creator whose plan is much better than our own.

Do you have chaos and heartache that has happened to you? Are you struggling to see why God allowed this to happen?

Consider this: Bad Things Do Happen to “Good” People.

And God allows this at times. This can often be too difficult for us to understand, and too far for us to reach and wrap around. But remember one thing: Without God’s plan, you would not have a life to live in the first place.

Put your hope in Him, because one day, things will be glorious. You will share in His eternal kingdom, and if you have accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, you will enjoy His rich blessings. Don’t wait another moment to praise Him today, seek His love and rest in the challenge, beauty, and light that it brings.

 

By: Erika Pizzo

Bring Easter Into Your Week

The joy that comes from this weekend is unforgettable. We remember the glory of our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross, and we can reflect on the amazing act of His resurrection. We have so much to be grateful for, and without the constant reminder of what He has done for us, we can lose sight of what truly matters, giving Him the glory in our everyday lives.

Today I was convicted to bring the Lord back into what I do everyday. I know I’m guilty of often times setting Him aside, and letting other things distract me. What should be the focus of every day is how to grow closer and closer to Him, and further away from the world.

What challenged me specifically was this quote from Sarah  Young:

“I am with you and for you, your constant Companion and Provider. The question is whether you are with Me and for Me. Though I never leave you, you can essentially “leave” Me by ignoring Me: thinking or acting as if I am not with you. When you feel distance in our relationship, you know where the problem lies. My Love for you is constant; I am the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is you who change like shifting sand, letting circumstances toss you this way and that.”

I hope this challenges you today to live a life worthy of His calling, and a life closer to Him. Don’t worry about whatever might be on your plate today, or this week, but instead, continue to revel in the fact that He died specifically for you, to give you a life free from sin.

What a great God we serve, and what a wonderful day it is to give Him!

By: Erika Pizzo

Planning a Trip on a Budget

The spring has come and gone, and before we know it, summer will be here! Many of us have dreams of great vacations, and fun times with our families and friends, but we also know the hard truth: vacations are expensive!

So how can you plan a trip with your loved ones that will be memorable, fun, and also not cost you thousands of dollars in the end? Let me give you a few insights into planning a trip on a budget, and hopefully you will be inspired to go out and find some deals yourself!

First things first…

Watch for Deals Months Ahead of Time

Whether we are talking about flights, rental cars, or hotel rates, make sure you are doing your homework on the best deals around. Do you have a favorite travel site you always go to for finding where to stay or what airline to fly? Change it up! Look at all the travel sites, and make sure you compare all of the deals. It does take time, but trust me, your time will be worth it! Sometimes you can even get the SAME TICKET or SAME CAR for less on a different site, simply because they have a better deal with the provider.

Research Areas Where Hotels Cost Less

Whenever I want a “getaway” for our anniversary, I always start with google, by entering keywords like “inexpensive trips” or “cheap getaways” and although those sound like spam websites just waiting to happen, I do find some good ideas with those searches.

Without giving up your dream spot to take a vacation, consider staying 10 miles out in a different town or city at a bed and breakfast. Sometimes just carrying a certain zip code means a higher priced hotel, so always be on the lookout for nearby areas that will cost you less.

Ask Around, or Read Around

Whenever I start planning something, the first thing I want to know is what other people just like me think about a certain place or certain way of traveling. So what do I do? I read comments. Sure, some people are out there just to wreak havoc on a hotel or place, but with the right discernment, reading comments can give you the “real” picture of what it might be like to go on a vacation to that spot.

Another helpful tool is simply to get ideas from your friends and family. They have probably been to places you have never even thought of, and knowing the area, they can give you tips on where to stay. But always check back for prices at hotels they might recommend, because it is very possible you will find a better deal.

Go Somewhere that Invites the Outdoors

We all know going to places like New York City or Las Vegas pretty much mean one thing: YOU SPEND A LOT OF MONEY. So consider for a moment the place you are looking to go. Will it be worth your while, or will you be paying for a trip you can’t even afford in the first place?

I always recommend to look for a spot that invites the outdoors, meaning that you have plenty of opportunity for free fun, like hiking, walks on the beach, a stroll in the park, kayaking, skiing. Maybe you’re not an outdoors type person, but it wouldn’t hurt to research what you would do around your hotel, and make sure it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg!

Travel in the Off-Season, on Off-Days

The best ticket prices will always be in less busy seasons, and think about it, if this means you get to go on a great vacation for half the cost, go for it! Watch for deals in certain months, and even start by searching the same destination in different months. It’s always fun to stop your hectic schedule in the middle of everything, and have some time away. It won’t be when everyone else is there, but in the long run, that’s perfectly ok, more family time!

If it works within your schedule, it also helps greatly with cost to fly out on off-days, meaning weekdays. It’s amazing to see the drop in ticket prices when you plan to leave on a Tuesday or Wednesday compared to a Saturday. Again, do your research, and it will pay off!

 

Hope these tips helped, and remember, you can go on vacation if you do it the right way! Don’t give up on something you want to do because you are discouraged based on the cost of past vacations. Do something new and different, and really look for these deals ahead of time!

 

By: Erika Pizzo

 

Insights for Christians on Faith & Finances

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