Hope for your financial life and beyond

Stay the Course: Our Success Happened One Step At A Time

Hidden Nuggets Series #40 – “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty.” – Proverbs. 21:5

stay the course

One station at a time

It’s been a fun and busy week at Luke1428. On Monday, I shared that we had finally paid off our mortgage early. I followed that up on Wednesday by explaining the four big reasons why we chose that route. Needless to say, there has been a whole bunch of page views this week, more than I expected. I guess this is a hot topic after all.

Of course, those who commented here and on my Facebook page have been excited for us. Believe me, so are we. It’s been a conviction of ours that we have been pushing to complete for over four years.

I couldn’t help but feel that some who shared seemed discouraged. They talked about how long it would take them to pay off their mortgage and that they couldn’t ever imagine reaching that goal. Maybe I’m reading into the comments, which is a really easy thing to do.

If you feel that way, like the end is never going to come, I’d like to say three things:

1. We’ve all felt that emotion.

2. One step at a time.

3. The tortoise always wins.

Stay the Course and Have Success

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We Are One Heartbeat Away From a Life Changing Moment

Hidden Nuggets Series #33 – “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” – Proverbs 27:1

life changing

Sports fans watching their Wednesday late night highlight reels witnessed some stunning footage of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman being drilled in the head from a batted ball by Kansas City Royals player Salvador Perez. It’s a “Gasp…OMG!” moment, as Chapman lay sprawled on the ground, writhing in pain.

For those able to stomach grisly injury videos, the scene can be found here at ESPN.

Reports today are that Chapman suffered a few fractured bones and a mild concussion. He will have surgery to implant some steel plates in his head and miss about 6-8 weeks of the regular season. I’m amazed that’s the extent of his injuries and am thankful he is fine.

Let me rephrase that…I’m thankful he’s alive.

The speed and suddenness at which this incident happened, reminded me of a Monday night football game I watched in 1985. On that night, Giant’s linebacker Lawrence Taylor sacked Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, snapping his leg in two. That fateful flea-flicker play that took only a few seconds ended Theismann’s career. Anyone who was there or watching on TV will say it’s the most gruesome sports injury ever.

Events like these remind me we are one heartbeat away from a life changing moment.

Reacting to Life Changing Fastballs

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How Do You Handle Life’s Most Embarrassing Moments?

Hidden Nuggets Series #30 – “O my God, I trust in you; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me.” – Psalms 25:2

embarrassing moments

Wonder if Larry Legend every had an embarrassing basketball moment?

My teammates and I are playing defense in the second quarter of our private school state championship basketball game. Suddenly a player from our team steals the ball. Noticing an opening, I move from my defensive position up the floor. In a split second, I find myself on the receiving end of a pass with nothing but hardwood and our basket in front of me.

Pounding the ball into the floor, I streak forward, gaining speed with each step. All of their team’s defenders are trailing behind me as I hear the crowd’s cheering begin to swell. This is clearly leading to two points as an open lay-up awaits.

Then, as I approached the goal and jumped with the ball extended in one hand, the unthinkable occurred…

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Stubbornness Cost Me Four Months of Running. What’s It Costing You?

Plantar_fasciitisThat twinge on the bottom of my foot sure didn’t feel good. One minute I’m running fine and the next minute I was praying “I hope I’m fine.” That was August 2013 when, after running about 1,200 miles in a year and a half, my left foot gave out, right between the heal and the arch.

Problem was that I didn’t know what it was then and quite frankly, I didn’t want to know. I had the Baltimore Marathon coming up in mid-October and had already completed two-thirds of my training. If I could endure the pain and run through it, then I’d rest afterward. No doctor’s diagnosis was going to stop me now if I could help it.

So that’s what I did. I taped my foot during training, kept running and completed the marathon in a personal best time.

Four months later I’m still paying for it.

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Now That’s What I Call Love

Hidden Nuggets #28“Love never fails.” – I Corinthians 13:8

HandsThese hands have seen many years.

Time has not been kind to the physical features. These once vibrant hands have aged into a wrinkled shadow. The attempt to elude time’s impact on the body has failed. Time ages us, one and all.

The belief we can escape time’s impact is folly. Yet it is not all-powerful. In this picture, I find three evidences of time’s failure:

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When Passion Meets Weakness

ID-100206697In yesterday’s post, I made the assertion we should focus on areas of personal strengths, not areas of weakness, when we are looking to better ourselves. That goes against our natural tendency. We usually see areas of weakness as a barrier to excellence. I suggested pouring more time and effort into our strengths, so as to push us past a threshold we’ve been bumping up against, into an elite status of functioning.

I’m sure you are thinking of exceptions to this or asking the question “Is there ever a time when it’s OK to focus on improving a skill you simply don’t have?”

I believe so, if this is the case – when you discover a new passion. Then I could see the logic in starting from the ground up and pursuing that passion with full intensity. This would be all the more appropriate if the newfound passion connected in some way with another segment of your life – like what has happened to me with Luke1428.

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The Futility of Being a Well Rounded Person

a well rounded personI used to think the best way to achieve big-time personal success was to be a well rounded person, with knowledge and skill spanning many different areas. I’d become the Cliff Clavin know-it-all type, the person who could be plugged into any situation to give advice or help facilitate a positive outcome.

By being a well rounded person, jack-of-all-trades type, I would become indispensable and people would flock to me for advice and counsel.

Isn’t this philosophy what our school systems promote through the curriculum track? A student with exceptional talent and designs on a career in science must still take general education classes in English and social studies, perhaps even a foreign language. Those classes serve some but not much purpose in relation to the students desired outcome, which is to meet the requirements for graduation.

This post isn’t about the challenges in the educational system. I’ve been involved in education for 15+ years, so I understand the value of having students touch the various fields of study. We would be doing them a disservice if they didn’t have some basic math or grammar skills by the time they finish school. But how much math does the average graduate really need to be functional in society, especially when it comes to managing their financial life?

They basically need to know how to add and subtract so they can balance a checkbook.

What I’m suggesting here is the notion of being a well rounded person only serves to generate mediocrity. Being a jack-of-all-trades means I’m a master at none. Who wants that? I’d rather work to become awesome in a few things instead of average at many, wouldn’t you?

A Well Rounded Person or Awesome Person?

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4 Ways to Punch Through the Scary Questions at the Start

ID-10083769Do you long to finish what you start?

Finishing is huge for our psyche. It wows and gives us confidence. It releases pressure and tension when we finally reach our goal. Finishing creates momentum and catapults us forward to even greater things.

But we don’t start at the finish…we start at the start; and the start can be a very confusing place to be. Remember what it was like in those moments when the dream was birthed in your mind? Wasn’t it exciting and scary all at the same time…and full of questions?

Can I do this?

Where do I begin?

Do I have adequate knowledge for this?

Who out there can help me?

What if I mess something up?

And the most paralyzing question of all – What will other people think?

Unfortunately, the answers we give stop us dead in our tracks. We don’t move beyond the initial stages of exploration because of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Our dream is brought to a screeching halt before it ever begins.

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I’m Running Naked and Loving It

Hidden Nuggets #14 – “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” – Hebrews 12:1

running nakedHistorians describe a revealing practice among the ancient Greeks. Apparently it was common for athletes participating in distance races and other athletic events to wear no clothing. That’s right…au naturel. Debate continues as to when and where this first occurred. The idea behind it however is clear – remove all encumbrances so the body can perform at peak efficiency.

How times have changed…thankfully!

Last Saturday when I completed the Baltimore Marathon, I did so with over 3,000 fully clothed marathoners.  However, many of them were “running naked,” including myself. How’s that possible?

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That Moment When You Question Your Goals

Baltimore Marathon

2013 Baltimore Marathon finishers medal

Mile 18.

I’m deep in the heart of the most difficult portion of the Baltimore Marathon. My pre-race plan has worked to perfection, with two hours and thirty minutes of patient, steady running behind me. Just ahead though, I’m about to face multiple lengthy inclines, the kind that cut into your pace and can punish a runner late in the race. My legs feel good but I’m not looking forward to these climbs.

Every runner has to endure moments like this. It comes with the territory. There is no way I’m stopping with my goal of a sub-four hour marathon clearly in reach. I’ve been intensively training for the last four months and I’m not letting all that effort go to waste.

As a former psychology major, I’ve always been intrigued by our mind. What is it about the circumstances of the moment that trigger unusual, creative or bizarre thoughts? We think of things at the strangest of times. And as I began a slow and arduous climb in mile 19, I experienced this phenomenon, thinking of something I hadn’t dwelt on in a long time.

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When Conviction Trumps Value

Music CDSeveral times in my life, I’ve felt strongly convicted about addressing a personal issue. I’m no different than anyone else in that sometimes a barrier of some kind keeps me from moving forward. The choices we make in those moments can have a lasting impact for the rest of our life.

One such occasion occurred my junior year of college. I attended Cedarville University in Ohio, a Christian liberal-arts college of about 2,000 students at the time of my enrollment. As part of our program, each student was required to attend chapel services each day along with the occasional special event, such as a lectureship series or revival meeting. During one of these special events, I became convicted of something that many would call irrelevant and only a minor issue.

To me it was big deal though…made bigger when I realized what it would cost me.

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