Hope for your financial life and beyond

The Best Advice From God About Playing Video Games

I have a confession to make – I LOVE playing video games. In fact, even today at age 43 – I have to keep myself from playing them because it’s so easy for me to get sucked into their grasp. I can still play all day if I let myself go.

Technology propels society forward perhaps like nothing else. I came of age in a decade where the video game industry saw leaps and bounds like never before. I was seven in 1980 when perhaps the greatest video game of all time was released. Want to take a guess which game that was?

That’s right – Pac-Man.

But the 1980s saw even greater innovations that propelled the numbers of kids and adults playing video games to new heights.

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A Christmas Memory That Still Challenges Me to This Day

I love the Christmas season. Yes, it’s hectic. I know, it’s cold. Yes, travel is a nightmare. Each of those issues may bring back a Christmas memory you’d rather not recall.

a christmas memoryDespite all that, I look forward to Christmas. Always have. As a young child it meant a trip to my grandparent’s house in Indiana each year. We’d usually stay for a week with the rest of the extended family crammed into the house. My sister and I camped out on air mattresses in my grandfather’s study.

I don’t know how my grandparents did it, especially my grandmother. Cooking for 15 plus people for the week must have been exhausting. In fact, from our sleeping position in the study, my sister and I could see the light of her bedroom and the kitchen click on early – EARLY – each morning. She always pulled it off though with the perfect mixture of meats, fruit salads and desserts that we all liked.

It was crowded in that house but for a young child, it was as close to nirvana as one could come. So many things happened during the week that were out of the routine. There were later bedtimes, watching endless TV (sports) with my uncles, playing in the snow outside and having a steady stream of board games going on the inside.

But what I remember more than anything – and what ended up touching my life the most to this day – was our annual gift exchange.

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My Varidesk Review: The Standing Desk Alternative for Your Office Space

Are you looking for a standing desk alternative for your desk space at home or office? Tired of sitting all day? That was me several months ago.

When I was a high school teacher I used to stand all day long. When I quit teaching, I found myself sitting a whole lot more – sitting to write blog posts, sitting to prepare messages for my church youth group and sitting during staff meetings. I began to notice that I was becoming fatigued and my back was hurting. Evidently all the standing I had done as a teacher had kept me fitter than I thought.

Varidesk standing deskSo I started looking into a standing desk for my office. Most of what I ran across in my initial search was pieces of furniture – an actual desk that was higher than normal. I thought that would be OK but didn’t really find anything I liked.

Then I stumbled across Varidesk, a company that makes an adjustable standing desk (really best described as an adjustable platform) that sits on top of traditional desk furniture. It’s unique design allows you to work sitting at your desk. When you are tired of sitting, you can adjust the platform upwards to stand and work. You can see videos at the company website on how that adjustment happens.

I was impressed after reading many positive reviews. The vast majority of people loved the product and raved how it had changed their work habits. More energy, less back pain and an increased level of alertness were all things I heard reported.

My Standing Desk Experiment

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Back to School Tips to Manage Your Crazy Mornings

Next week my kids head back to school. YES and DOUBLE YES! They will hate that I’m saying that but after two long summer months it’s time to get back to the school thing. And to celebrate that, I’m going to remind my kids (and all of you who are reading) of some back to school tips that help us manage our crazy mornings.

back to school tipsMornings during the school year can be hectic…am I right? After all the days of sleeping in during the summer, suddenly you are forced back into an early wake up call. And in the span of an hour it seems like you do 100 things to get inside the school building just in time.

It doesn’t have to be so hectic. In fact, I could count on one hand the number of times last year where we were truly rushed and almost didn’t make it to school.

Those who know me will say, “But you only live seven minutes from school!” To which I say, it doesn’t matter. When I worked in education I knew of people who lived that close and seemed to be late every day. So with that in mind, here are some back to school tips that we’ve learned over our 11 years of seeing our kids off to school.

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This Smith and Wesson Stock Chart Reveals Our Biggest Fear

Smith and Wesson stock is reaching heights never seen before in the history of the company. The stock price closed at $29.07 on Friday, just 30 cents shy of it’s all time high. However, that alone doesn’t tell the whole story.

Smith and Wesson stock has been tracing higher for the last five years. As you can see from the stock chart below, on Sept. 26, 2011, it traded at $2.52. If you would have bought then, you’d be looking at a 1,053 percent increase. Not bad for a five-year investment.

smith and wesson stock

Chart courtesy of Morningstar.com

The bulk of the rise in the stock price has occurred since January of 2015. Since that time Smith and Wesson stock has risen from around $10 per share to what we see today. Again, not a bad return for a year and a half investment.

So what’s driving the stock price? Well, in the most basic of investment world terms, it’s company sales. Just a few weeks ago the company announced fourth quarter sales of $221.1 million. That figure was an increase of 22.2% over the fourth quarter of last year.

So the company is growing by selling more of its product. Those sales are leading to increased profits and a healthier company balance sheet. Investors are taking notice and more are purchasing the stock for their portfolios (hence the rise in Smith and Wesson stock price).

“But what’s driving sales?” you might be asking. Well, in case you don’t know Smith and Wesson manufactures and sells firearm products and accessories. That’s right…it’s a gun company.

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Your Mental To Do List Before Starting a Room Addition

So you’ve made all your plans and crunched the numbers and are finally ready for a room addition. That’s great news! But are you sure you know what to expect for the next couple months?

room additionMost homeowners think they know exactly what is coming. The truth is that most people have not done a room addition.  Consequently, they overlook some of the details that are involved. To that end, here is a list of daily activities and truths involved with any room addition you need to be aware of.

Prepare For Dust

You need to prepare for the worst if you or members of your family have OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) or are used to very clean environments. Things will most definitely get dirty. Walls will be removed, electricity re-routed, grading and excavation among other activities that cause a lot of dust and dirt.

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Managing a Home While on Vacation: Do’s, Don’ts, & Money Saving Tips

Going on vacation soon? Then you will enjoy this post today by Hank McKinsey, rental property owner and blogger at Homebyhank.com.

Taking a vacation can be a fantastic way to relax and regroup from your daily and weekly routine. While vacations are exciting to prepare for, one thing that often gets neglected is your home.

vacationPrepping your home for your time away will ensure that it stays safe and secure, and things like pets or plants aren’t left without care. Vacations can be expensive, so it’s also important to save money during these preparations. With a few quick tips your home, pets, and garden will be happy even in your absence.

The Basics of Going Away on Vacation

Do’s

As part of your vacation planning you should make sure there is a system in place to help you keep your house safe and secure:

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The Most Important Reason You Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

You’ve probably heard it said at some point, “Hey, do not worry about tomorrow. Focus on today and let the future take care of itself.” That’s not bad advice really. The older I get the more I’m realizing why.

do not worry about tomorrowWe all have things that affect our daily actions. Things we’ve done in the past affect us in the present. Things we are doing in the present affect us in the present. And believe it or not, things that we will do in the future affect us in the present even though they haven’t happened yet.

You may be thinking, “How could that possibly be if those events have yet to occur?” Well, it’s not the event per se that affects us. It’s how we think about those yet-to-happen events and how they lead us to worry about them.

Of those three time lines – past, present and future – I think the future one has the greatest potential to stop us in our tracks. Here’s how.

Why You Do Not Worry About Tomorrow

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Daddy Take the Wheel – Adventures With a 15-yr. Old Driver

Carrie Underwood once famously sang, “Jesus take the wheel – cause I can’t do this on my own.” Recently I’ve gained a new appreciation for her imagery because my 15-year old was issued her learner’s permit. Yes, I can’t believe it…she is learning how to drive. Wasn’t she just in diapers doing her best Fred Flintstone, foot-power imitation in her Little Tikes mobile?

little tikes 2She’s never been behind the wheel of a car before. We don’t live on a farm or have a big yard so she never grew up driving a tractor or lawn mower. The closest she has been to operating a motorized vehicle are go-carts at amusement parks. And of course, those are small and regulated for speed.

Needless to say we are having some fun adventures. I’ve acted like Jesus several times – reaching over to take the wheel to correct a mistake. I’ve had to save a few mailboxes in our subdivision from being clipped by the passenger side, rear view mirror. And there was that one wide turn in our school parking lot that had us headed straight for the second grade classroom. (Shhh…don’t tell the principal.) That was a forceful take the wheel correction.

But she’s learning and getting better each time out.

Funny thing is, I’m re-learning something also that I forget from time to time.

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Audience Alert: An Evolution Occurring at Luke1428

Six months ago, I shared about going back to work to take on an administrative pastor role at my church. I was already the youth pastor there (still am), so I didn’t know how the time commitment for the new role would impact other areas of my life. I wasn’t sure I’d have the time or desire to keep writing for this blog.

evolutionI emailed quite a few bloggers to share the news and ask for their advice on what to do. Should I keep writing at my current frequency, scale back or consider selling the site? I really was at a loss as to what to do.

Amidst the great responses I received came a noteworthy piece of advice from a very experienced and successful blogger. He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Think about whether you want to hold on to the blog as a means of expression and connection. Even if you have to scale back it may be worth it to keep it.”

The meaning I took from his statement was this, “Hey, you never know where a blog can lead or how it may evolve.”

Since then I’ve thought a lot about that statement in relation to my writing, my career and my goals in life. What I’ve discovered is going to cause a minor evolution at Luke1428.

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What Should I Do For My Birthday Today?

Birthdays come but once a year. Today just so happens to be mine. And with it comes the obligatory question, What should I do for my birthday?

Some birthdays seem bigger than others. When I was a child, my birthday ranked right behind Christmas as the most important day of the year. I’d look forward to March 7th each and every year because it meant parties and cake and presents. I mean, what child doesn’t like to have those things on Christmas or their birthday or on any given day of the year?

what should i do for my birthdayNow, at 43, there is not so much gifting. There are fewer parties. Sometimes there is cake or perhaps a night out – if a babysitter can be found. More than likely though, the kids just come along on said night out.

The decade birthdays draw a bit more attention like when I turned 40. But for the most part I’m finding birthdays in middle age pass quietly without much fanfare.

And I’m OK with that.

A few months ago I spent some time with my grandfather, just a few weeks before his 102nd birthday. As we sat down to dinner one night, the conversation turned to a discussion about things that had occurred during the last year that we were thankful for. I’ll never forget his response when it came time for him to answer.

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