Coming into focus…

Today my sweet friend from Anavista came over to help me understand my A6000 a bit better. Meaning she started from scratch and went over photography 101. You know… important basics like aperture, shutter speed and ISO! She took me through all of the various settings on my camera and just did an overview on […]

Launching changes…

Today via FB live shared the vision of The Encouraging Voice and the changes coming this year. There’s still an incredible amount of details that need to be determined and yet I’m ready to continue getting this going one step at a time.

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it’s coming into focus…

And that’s how life goes, right?

There’s so many things that are “pending,” or “in progress” and yet we still have to keep moving in one way or another. The most important things in life seem to escape us if we don’t put intentional time and effort into them. So here we go!

The Encouraging Voice is going to be launching website changes, process changes, and all sorts of things. I want to connect with you the way that’s best for you and start planning the various aspects of this thing better.

Encouragements. Testimonials. Merch. Social Media. Events. Community Impact.

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the messy office of dreams!

I want this to be interactive and just as much about YOU as it is about me and my steps. It has to be really. This thing has to be about you and me being whatever God has called us to be and do. Stepping up to be faithful and obedient. He’ll take care of all the rest. Whatever we need, however He’ll lead us. By his strength, might and wisdom.

Let me know your reactions and opinions. What’s helpful? What’s not so helpful? What are you doing to follow the dreams God’s put in you?

For now subscribe so you can be a part of these changes and see this come alive in a whole new way. The next steps are planning the changes, details and setting up the launch dates for everything to start happening!

Thank you friend.

Be brave. Be great. Be YOU.

 

I Can Adult: Encouraging the Millenials

I had the privilege of participating in the first ever I Can Adult, initiated by Fenton Challenge and held at Flint’s own Cafe Rhema. I’m going to share with you my experience of it all and what I took away. It’s not meant to be a review of any sort or an all encompassing critique on how successful or impactful this event was. I believe that everyone there took something incredible away from today, something they needed, or some way that God spoke to their identity and destiny. I’m giving you what I feel I’m responsible for to take away, process, and carry forward.

Today was gorgeous and beautiful which matched the joyful smiles at the door and everyone was genuinely excited for the event. Well organized, well greeted, well manned. Two younger business owners shared their experiences, expertise and wisdom and in amazing leadership-type fashion they were humbled to be there and share what they had to give. It was awesome. It was so fun hearing their hearts. Then there were specific topics in the afternoon covering common “adulting” issues. Before our eyes this beautiful and personal thing was unfolding around us. The group interacted and responded to the speakers and I was so proud of how everything went and unfolded.

But let me explain to you something about myself. In things like this where folks are coming in not knowing everyone, or some might feel socially out of place, I’m quick to help them acclimate. I start the small talk, introduce them to someone, help them find where they’re going. Honestly, today there weren’t many “new” people. I know it was intentionally a small group hosted in the back intimate room of Cafe Rhema, but why is it so hard to connect with the folks we’re trying to reach? How do we get more folks that need this stuff into events like this? I really believe that events like this spark those creative and motivating moments to change and move. But intentional relationships are where you’ll find wisdom and support through all of the challenges that come your way and find the strength to continue fighting towards those goals and dreams.

Honestly, guys, I’m facing this same issue with my business. I do financial coaching. So like, who wants me to be all in their face with their finances? How many folks out there have read my stuff on budgeting and got all giddy about it? I’ve spent hours with folk going over their information and our education stuff only to have them drop off for whatever reasons. And yet, I see so many folks that sincerely and earnestly want to reach out and mentor others. I see so many folks that are desperately looking for a mentor who will pour into them. Why can’t we connect these two together? What am I missing?

The hardest thing about my job – about life for that matter – is the people part. I guess I’ll throw part of this on our human nature and our sin issue. But I’m reading the books, trying to build the business, trying to push back the push back. Seriously guys. I want to impact. I want to love and pour into and build you up. I’m trying and maybe I’m doing it all wrong. There’s some of you out there I’ve spent hours with… would you be honest enough to tell me if I was messing it up? Are we really too busy for it? Are we really too scared to get that close?

All I know is that to some level, like all relationships, we have to pursue each other. And as someone who’s working to grow as a mentor, I’ll even take the responsibility to initiate. Because that’s what God did for us. So let’s follow in His example. Let’s love others and seek them out before they think they need to come begging for our time. You have my word that I am intentionally engaging in pursuing others. If you want my time, let’s schedule it. If I can encourage you in any way, pray with you, or connect you with someone please don’t hesitate to start that conversation with me. I welcome it and have been praying for it. There are too many incredibly amazing people that I have the privilege of calling my friends. All from different generations, up-bringings, experiences, races, and positions. You ALL have just incredible things God is equipping you for. I believe in you and I believe in the body of Christ, to be unified.

So please, PLEASE! I’m literally begging for your input right now. Please give me ANY input you have on…

  • Why don’t more mentorship relationships happen?
  • How do we get more of this awesome growth or adulting stuff to the folks that need it?
  • How could this simple dreamer, be a better mentor?
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I Can Adult – 08.06.16 – Cafe Rhema, Flint, MI

The 6 letter “B” word…

It’s so funny. In my short few years of coaching and teaching people personal finance it’s amazing the patterns and issues you start noticing (quickly) over and over. I can give you the numbers, show you the statistics, tell you the countless stories I’ve witnessed already, and share with you my own testimony… but I still get the responses and excuses as if I don’t know anything.

Our life is just really crazy right now… we’ll get to it when things slow down.
He’s starting a new job so we want to wait until that happens because it’s going to change. 
I don’t make much, so it doesn’t really make sense to do a budget. 

I get it. Trust me, I totally get it. Look back at my testimony or come grab me and lets have coffee for a few hours. It’s frustrating, hard, discouraging and devastating to go through controlyourmoney.pngsome of the things life throws at you or that you bring on yourself. But at some point you have to realize that you can’t throw out excuses for your lack of discipline or self-control. God blatantly has biblical principles and rules for handling money and if you don’t follow them you can’t get yourself off the hook by saying, “Oh, well, I don’t make much,” or “I’m not good at keeping a budget.” It’s not funny, it’s not cute… it’s simply disobedience.

The more we write it off as not that important the more we allow money to control us. You have to fight for this and get this stuff in order so that we can move on and focus on our callings. Think of all the stress you wouldn’t have if you didn’t have to worry about your bills or debt payments. Think of all of the amazing things you could do if you could spend that money on your dreams, on helping others, on working towards your future? I think of the many times I’ve finally started getting back to exercising and sleeping better only to realize how much better I felt! Gees, how could I forget how good it felt to keep it up? And man, how crummy it really feels to be so tired and sluggish all of the time. It’s the same with finances. You do the work ahead and it smooths so many of the issues out.

This life is too short to fool around dear-heart. Let’s move up in maturity, wisdom, and grace. God will lead you in all these things, we just need to be willing. shhh-carousel.jpgSo that 6 letter word that’s so awful? Budget. It’s not so scary, and it’s not too silly for anyone. Everyone needs to be intentional about what they do with their money.

Father God, I pray you would stir hearts towards the best you have for them. You have so many incredible dreams waiting for us and I pray that you would grow the faith, trust, steadfastness and all of the fruits of the Spirit in us. According to your will and word I pray a strong foundation to be built in our minds and hearts. Spirit lead us and speak to us. Let us steward all that’s been given to us to be a tool for the kingdom and a blessing to us that flows out to others. Let us be a light that reflects your glory to the world. Amen!

This is my Life.

When you think of adulting unfortunately you often think of all of the responsibilities that weigh you down from being able to do the things we’d rather be doing. I have to get up and go to work in the morning. I have to get that paper done by Tuesday. I have to do my laundry. I have to pay rent. We really look forward to ‘Friday’ and those times we get to let lose and enjoy those days off or going on that vacation.

What if your life was all about everything you just loved doing? What if adulting was more about getting to where you get to do things just because you can now, not because you have to anymore? Like yeah, I’m going to go visit my cousin for a week and help her with her new baby just because I can. Or, yeah I’m going to go host that financial workshop out of state next year just because I can. Doesn’t that sound amazing? Well, it’s all true. All legit things that I get to do now just because I can. bestisyettocome.jpg

And you know what, there’s still legitimate adulting that needs to happen in that other sense. The laundry still has to get done, the house still needs to get cleaned, and the bills yes, still need to get paid. Sometimes you take the job you don’t like, so that you can get the job you really want. Sometimes you have to sow and invest so that you can do the other cool things. It’s so different now and it feels way better. The responsibility is definitely more on me now to have self discipline and be a woman of my word because I’m self-employed. If I say I’m going to do something, I better do it. If I’m going to be a mom and a wife, well I better live my vows and honor these guys. I may not have a boss expecting me to show up at 8am and get that task list done by 5, but I definitely have people that count on me every day both personally and professionally.

This is my life. I’m going to be doing a lot more things just because I can. Just because it would be an incredible investment. Just because that person just needs a little bit of someone’s time to encourage them. Just because it’s who I am.

And that feels like true adulting. 

How Fun was That?

In two short years my life has changed upside down from where it was. I told a friend tonight; “If you would have told me two years ago that all of this was going to happen I would have told you, you were nuts. No flippin’ way possible.” To which he shot back; “I did tell you, and that’s what you told me!” I keep telling my husband that I just can’t believe we’re here, that things are happening the way they are. It’s just unreal.

We strived and worked so hard for such a long time, guys. We were extremely tired and discouraged. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. We really tried to get our finances in order and make good decisions. But man, the minute we started gaining ground something would happen and knock us back down. Each time we were more bruised than before and got up with less fight and less hope left in us.

Matthew 15:18 “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Oh the things that we felt and would say! Things like; No matter how hard I try, it’s never going to happen. Stuff like this always happens to me. No one helps us. We’re going to be fighting this our whole lives, so what’s the point? The things that would proceed from our own mouths against ourselves, against our dreams. It was fear and a lack of identity that left us vulnerable and allowed the enemy to tear us apart.

“How fun was that first year?” I can laugh at the thought of that now but in all seriousness there was not a single thing that was funny about that first year. It was rough as God used conferenceash.jpghard and discouraging circumstances to do some intense molding and cleaning of our hearts.  Now, as I sit across tables from people in the same position I was just a short time ago, it’s hard to explain the reality and viewpoint shift that are so stark to me now, without making them feel as though they aren’t trying enough. There’s a very delicate balance that’s needed to express empathy and compassion but at the same time not stop there and spur them on to a greater understanding and way of handling money. And every single time the change has to start with them first in their heart and mind. This is all a trust exercise with God.

I am definitely not saying; You don’t trust God enough so he hasn’t blessed you yet and you’re not prosperous because of x, y, and z. What I am saying is that if you continue doing the same things that you’ve always done and it still gets you nowhere, then you need to make some adjustments. God has some very specific rules on stewardship and handing money. Trust him that what his word says is going to work. The problem is is that it’s not an overnight fix. It’s going to be hard and take some time. All that debt you’ve piled up is going to take some time to resolve. All of those crummy habits you’ve made are going to need to get broken. Maybe you hate your job and struggle to find your purpose.

So here’s some basic stuff that will get you on your way to finding peace and freedom with your money. Heads up! It’s nothing you haven’t heard before. But it’s hard and sacrificial and doing these things will bring you face to face with opportunities to grow, heal, and mature.

  1. Do a budget. Decide ahead of time how all of your income is going to get spent, given and saved each month. Then stick to it.
  2. Don’t spend money you don’t have, i.e. that means don’t purchase stuff on credit, or take out loans. Save up to buy that thing.
  3. The only way to impact your income is to either sell stuff, make more money, or reduce your spending. If you’ve reduced all of the spending you can and still aren’t making enough then you need to start figuring out how to bring in more income. Big life events are eventually going to happen and you can’t keep struggling along without getting an emergency fund built up or getting that debt paid off faster.
  4. Say no. If it’s not in your budget then don’t do it. Be adult enough to say no and keep to the safe boundaries of that budget. It’s not there to hurt you, it’s there to empower you and protect you. The people that truly care about you will understand and figure out ways to still hang out and spend time together without breaking the bank. Chances are, it’s going to be a relief to their budget too.
  5. Stop blaming other people and take ownership of your own decisions.
  6. It’s going to be rough but it’s going to get easier. You’re a lot tougher, smarter, and more equipped than you give yourself credit for.

Your future is on the line. These temporary wants and issues are just that; temporary. God’s got more than this waiting for you. Tremendous kingdom work is waiting for us, guys, and until we can prove greater competency and maturity in some of these areas we just won’t be equipped to handle the other amazing stuff waiting for us. In my life, as all of these heart issues got resolved, my financial health ended up being a natural byproduct. It’s worshiponthehillunreal. I feel more and more a sense of responsibility, duty and humility as I see how God has allowed me to step into all of this because this is what he’s been preparing me for. None of this is mine or yours. It’s all from God and I pray for a continued sense of integrity and sound compass. Your Father’s heart is for you to know him and be a conduit of his kingdom so that the whole world would be restored back to his heart. Let’s get all of this money stuff dealt with so that it becomes an incredible tool, not a crutch. Be brave. Get fighting for your freedom and let us walk out our inheritance.

PS. We paid off our car yesterday. Three years early. Boom baby. Lol.

3 Ways to Finding Suzy…

I have the utmost admiration for you folks (superhumans) out there that work full-time, raise your family, and have clean clothes and a clean house. It’s absolutely incredible. We have a lot of responsibilities and only so many hours in a day to get everything accomplished. In college I couldn’t sit down and focus on my homework until I had my room completely picked up and put away. Now 10 years later I’ve got three beautiful little people that I’m training and managing. They don’t seem too bothered by the piles of laundry, food on the floor, and shoes and coats thrown all down the landing.

All the years that I worked full-time outside of the home I either caught up on things all on the weekend, or I’d try to maintain things throughout the week. Like if I did nothing else on Tuesday but clean the bathrooms after the kids were in bed, great! It took me less than a half an hour and it’d save me from doing it on Saturday. Sometimes I’d pay the sitter a little extra on date night and give her a list of a few things she could clean after putting the kids to bed. It was so worth it and gave them a chance to earn extra.

Now it’s very different. I’ve been a full-time mama at home for a year now. It’s been wonderful and I’ve woken up many days just thinking of how insanely blessed I am to be able to stay home and hang out with my kids. I get to schedule what I want to schedule. I get to say no to things and just enjoy being home together. It’s awesome and it took us many years to get to this point. I also seem to say yes to just about everything… yes to grabbing coffee, yes to helping with watching my friends kids, yes to another meal train, yes to helping with that event next week, yes to helping with music… and I love it all. But I’m left in somewhat of the same predicament as before… When do I make time for those pesky chores?

Proverbs 31; 25-27 (ESV)
25 
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Okay, if you have never read Proverbs 31 you should read the entire thing. It’s not very long but this chic is legit. She’s made me feel like a bum on countless occasions and I don’t know about you but I wake up often feeling idle. However, note that in verse 15 it references her maidens. Listen… from the sounds of it her and her hubby were fairly prosperous and had an entire household that worked together. She doesn’t do every single task within the household on her own, but she does manage it with wisdom. So be encouraged, it’s rough and crazy when you have littles in the house but as they get older suzyhomemakerit’s your job to train and manage your children to be a part of the team, not waiting on mom for their clean and folded clothes to magically appear in their drawers. I’ve even read lots of advice on hiring or having extra help from family with cleaning or errands during those young years so you can better invest your energies into your family emotionally and spiritually.

Now my girls are old enough to help out a ton. It’s not child abuse. They can clean their room, put away their own laundry, pick up toys and clean up after dinner… and whatever else I need help with at the moment. They’re learning to work together. To jump in and offer support and help. My soon to be 10-year-old does her own laundry and is starting to help prep dinner. It’s time I spend pouring in to them, teaching them, and showing them that work is a gift from God and a gift unto the Lord. It’s a commandment, it’s also a blessing. It’s doing the normal day to day stuff and making the mundane special because we did it together.

Colossians 3:23 “23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Genesis 2:3 “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

So over time we need to switch from doing the tasks ourselves to being a manager. Yes, that means you’ll spend extra time checking their work, having them redo or go back over directions again. We’ve spent countless times dumping out their laundry baskets and putting clean clothes away that they thought they could hide in the basket instead of folding and putting away. It’s a bonus that we have natural house cleaners so my 5 year old can spray away on those bathroom counters! Part of getting ready for bed is picking up their room. Before they can go outside to play with friends their stuff needs to be picked up. It’s helping them associate that their responsibilities need to be taken care of first before they can go do the extra stuff. Yes, this all is going to take time. Be patient. Be consistent. Keep a healthy balance. We’re training future heroes, leaders, and kingdom warriors.

All the while I still have a week here where I feel like I have it all together, and then another week where I swear I’m going to bag up everything we own and throw it out to the curb! I’ve learned over time now being home that I’m very project oriented. So doing a little house work every day bothers me and it makes me feel as though I’m just continually putting out fires and never finishing anything. So here’s 3 basic ways I’ve helped the Suzy Homemaker in me put on her big girl panties and get things done and feel more accomplished and organized;

1. Schedule the work and rest. I now have a day each week where nothing is planned. Absolutely no appointments, no coffee dates, no business appointments or agendas. We hang out and run any personal errands possibly and do school. That’s it. We rest from the busyness. On other days I actually write down in my day planner what part of the day I want to make calls, take care of bills, or finish up the laundry. If I see how those tasks will affect how the day goes I’m more apt to get up and get started so that I don’t get myself behind, overwhelmed and swamped later in the day. I also incorporate my kids into as much of it as possible. Partly for my sanity because I just can’t do it all on my own anymore and partly because it’s right for them to help now as they’re getting bigger.

2. Invest in 2-3 trusty babysitters. These folks are sweet, trusted people that I know my kids enjoy but I can count on. I use them for date nights, business appointments, or during the day for a couple hours here or there so I can crank away at my To-Do and get a lot accomplished in a couple hours. Focusing my time and energy enables me to be even more efficient and effective. I’m then able to come back and give my intentional, undivided attention back to my beautiful kiddos. And let’s be honest, I’m not the only one who’s found my almost 2-year-old elbows deep playing in the toilet water because I was so focused on the budget/bills spreadsheet. No? Just me?

3. Get rid of the extra. Have you heard of that cute Japanese lady, Marie Kondo? It’s been one of the most emotionally freeing things to finally rid myself of all of the extra stuff we store and save for that infamous, “maybe someday I’ll need this” situation. I like the rule that if you haven’t used it in over a year (gone through all 4 seasons) and didn’t need it, or forgot you had it, then donate to Goodwill, give it to someone else, or trash it. Every time the kids have gotten to a point where they have a hard time keeping up their room – we do a purge. They’re learning to give away things they don’t need or use anymore. I love seeing that generous and giving spirit growing in them.

Last of all, I really do like organizing and getting things done. I just hate being interrupted or starting a million things this week and never completely finishing any of them. It comes with the territory of having a young busy family. So hang in there, Ash. Find what works best for you. Ask for help. Trade some babysitting for help around the house. Ask your friend’s teenager to donate some time for maybe free piano lessons or something. I dunno, be creative depending on how frugal you want to be. And just remember, God will give you direction, help, and wisdom. Just ask.

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”