Hope for your financial life and beyond

Count the Cost: The Secret Step for Success at Anything (Luke 14:28)

count the costWould you like to have success at anything you do? Of course would. So would I. Nobody sets out with the intention to fail. However, many times we do fail and it’s often because we refused to count the cost ahead of time.

What do I mean by count the cost? Does that have something to do with money? Well, maybe but not necessarily.

Put simply, when you count the cost, you plan ahead. You take inventory of everything that needs to happen before you pursue a goal.

Now, you may not know every little detail that needs to be achieved in the process. But you can at least get a sense of all the big rocks that need to be accomplished in order for your endeavor to be successful.

This concept isn’t a new one. The term “count the cost” actually has its origins in the Bible. And Jesus used it with his disciples to prove a very important point about thinking and planning ahead.

[Read more…]

Interview with a Centenarian: At 100, My Grandfather Reflects on Life, Faith and Finding Purpose

Oh, to be a centenarian – 100 years of living. It’s simply amazing! Most of us would settle for 80% of that. It’s hard to fathom the changes and life events someone born in 1914 has experienced.


Byron Miller – Preaching at 100 years of age

What will you be up to at 100 years of age? My grandfather, as shown in the picture, preached a sermon the day after he turned 100. His challenge to those who listened:

1. Practice Gratitude (be thankful)

2. Express Certitude (in the things of your faith)

3. Develop Fortitude (build the power to endure)

And he played his guitar and sang a short chorus at the end. The song’s message – “Just a little bit longer Lord…just a little bit longer.”

Not a dry eye in the house.

In the weeks leading up to his 100th birthday, my grandfather was kind enough to answer some questions about his life. I’d encourage you to take five minutes to enjoy this thought provoking read about a man who has experienced the Depression, the loss of siblings, financial challenges, joys and regrets and 60+ years of ministry.

Q & A With a Centenarian

1. What is the most amazing thing you have seen in your lifetime? Why did that stand out?

[Read more…]

Goodbye Mortgage and Lender B.O.A. Hello Baby Step 7!

finished paying off the mortgage

My reaction to paying off the mortgage

Remember the feeling of those significant milestones in your life?

That time you moved away from home.

That day you said, “I do.”

That moment when your kids finally grew out of diapers.

That big job promotion or beginning a new career.

All of these and many more have occurred in my life and in our household. The one we experienced recently surely ranks in the top ten in matters of earthly importance.

We’ve Paid Off Our Mortgage!

Goodbye Bank of America. It’s been…uh, “nice” knowing ya. Hello Baby Step 7!

This event actually occurred in February. I walked into our local BOA and received the deer in the headlights look upon mentioning I wanted to pay off our mortgage. They appeared happy for me but I knew better. What was really running through their minds was “Rats…lost another one.”

They thought worse than that when learning I also wanted to close all my accounts. The only reason we opened a checking account there was because they purchased our mortgage from Countrywide years ago. It made it simpler to pay down our mortgage as we could transfer money to BOA from our main bank at PNC.

Uncharted Financial Waters

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

July Goals Update: This Arduous Affair Is Finally Over!

Clock midnightCalls after midnight are never good and raise blood pressure levels immediately. Calls between 11 p.m. and midnight still pose some high risk. So when the phone rang at 11:35 Monday night, I sprang from my sleep anticipating the worst.

Oh no…it’s my wife on the other end. She is at church youth camp (with my 12-year old daughter) serving as a chaperone. This can’t be good.

“Hello” I said nervously, dreading what’s coming next. Boating accident? Broken arm from falling out of a bunk bed? Food poisoning? My mind races, preparing for the bad news.

“Everything’s fine,” she says. (Phew. Exhale.) “I wanted to call and say I just received an email from the Georgia Secretary of State saying my CPA license has been approved.”

If it hadn’t been 11:35 I would have screamed for joy!

Someday we will write about this crazy three year journey we have been on. For right now, I’m just thankful to God that goal is behind us. Way to go dear…You Rock!

Here’s my goal update for July:

[Read more…]

Luke1428 Celebrates 1-Yr. Blog-iversary! A Special Thank You

Designfolio ScreenshotWhat a year! It all started with this post on July 3rd, 2012. If you like the Finding Nemo seagulls, then check out the video at the bottom of the post. See how long you can bear to listen. I give it 30 seconds tops.

Oh, and the post had a uniquely spiritual message about ownership that I continually have to revisit to this day.

I’m not sure what I was expecting last year when I started this blog. All I knew is that I had an idea, a passion and had finally worked up the courage to share those with others. Some people have no problem sharing on such a public forum like the Internet. I did. It was the biggest obstacle I had to overcome when starting Luke1428.

So in many ways, July 3rd is my personal independence day – the day I broke through some mental and emotional barriers and became willing to open myself up to the world.

Some things have changed here in the past year, including the free theme you see in the screenshot above. I’ve realized since my upgrade how un-functional that theme was. That’s part of the blogging learning process though, and I don’t regret using that because a great looking theme was not part of my original goal. RIP Designfolio.

[Read more…]

Winning is More Valuable Than Losing

Michael Jordan

“Bulls win! Bulls win!”

Let’s face it…losing sucks! In the moments right after a defeat, there are no positive feelings. Dejection, pain, frustration, anger, confusion – these are the immediate emotions of losers.

Winners experience something quite different. Their victorious moments are bursting with euphoria, pride, joy, amazement, and gratitude. That’s how I felt Sunday when I completely blew away my stated goal for completing the Publix Georgia Half-Marathon.

Winners also experience another feeling that never presents itself when losing. It’s really a chemical reaction taking place at the cellular level. Some call it an “endorphin rush”. Some call it “runner’s high”. It’s best described as a tingling sensation that flows through the body. It clouds reason and logic. It dulls pain. It’s what allows marathon runners to sprint the last half-mile of a race having already completed 25 plus.

I cannot adequately describe how powerful that bodily reaction is. It has an addicting quality that pushes me to come back for more. It’s reason one that I say winning is more valuable than losing.

[Read more…]

Of Marathons and Money: Recovery Week Edition

Recovery. It begins the moment you cross the finish line. First step, take the shiny, thermal blanket to stay warm. Then, keep walking…drink…eat…stretch. Once you are home, it’s hot tub soak…eat and drink some more…and Tylenol PM so you can sleep. The next few days means no running, maybe a massage, and lots of stretching to relieve muscles soreness. All in all, the physical recovery from completing a marathon takes about a week for most people.

The mental recovery will most likely take longer.

[Read more…]

Of Marathons and Money: Post Race Edition

Success! I completed the Atlanta Marathon Sunday morning in 4:07:54. That time ended up being a 9:23 pace per mile which I was really satisfied with. A 9:30 pace had been my goal. The weather was in the mid-50s and cloudy. We ended up running through several patches of drizzle but nothing to make one uncomfortable.

Overall I ended up 321st out of 982 finishers, placing 38th out of 113 in the 35-39 age group.

The biggest challenge of the race was the physical wall you hit about mile 20. I knew this was coming because I had read so much about it and had experienced it a little bit in training.

[Read more…]

Count the Cost: Stick to the Plan to Win (Part 3 – Luke 14:28)

All of us want to finish our lives with honor and dignity. We want to look back over the years that we have been privileged to live hear on earth with a sense of pride, accomplishment and satisfaction that our lives have been well spent. We want to have reached our goals and contributed in some small way to the lives of those around us. We want to have been winners at life.

Wasn’t that the goal of the builder in Luke 14:28?

He wanted to win by finishing his tower. And he knew that weighing the costs of the project ahead of time in some serious get-down-to-business strategic planning sessions was going to help him accomplish his objective.

The point of the verse is about planning but the goal was to finish. What does “finishing” look like in regards to finances?

[Read more…]