WISDOM WEAPONS: Tools to Help You Thrive

Austin and I found ourselves on a rare date night. We wound up in a bookstore sipping coffee, enjoying each other’s company, and the silence. As we browsed the books several got our attention, but as usual, we were going to leave empty handed. On the way out, a colorful book caught my eye. The book was misplaced in the store but seemed to be calling out to me. I picked the book up, flipped through the pages, and realized that book was misplaced just for us! Long story short, we purchased the book and began to read through it quickly. I’ll share details about the book later….

A few years prior my husband challenged us to pay off our mortgage in five years. We are both ambitious people, and had reached some wonderful goals in the past, but this one was crazy considering we were 33 and 31 years old. 

Well, he drew up the plan and we began the process…complete with a sticker chart!

As the year passed, it became hard. We sometimes wanted to stop and go on a spending spree, but for some reason we never came to that conclusion at the same time. If he was ready to quit, I’d be all on board and talk him off the ledge. If I was ready to quit, it was like he had a new found energy for it. It was crazy how the motivation continued. 

Fast forward about 2.5 years into the plan and we felt God beginning to change our hearts and intentions regarding this endeavor. What initially began as selfish motivation to get a bigger and better house to keep up with “the Joneses”, slowly began to shift. Little did we know, God was at work!

We were feeling the push to do more, to make an impact. Our heart’s desires were being transformed. We both wanted to become people who made a difference in the world, even if it was just in a small way.

Our pastor was preaching one Sunday about being an ordinary Christian. He basically challenged the congregation to reflect on how we were being the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. Right then and there that Austin and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. It was clear; we were not going to be up with the Joneses. God was calling us to do more; we were being asked to impact His Kingdom. 

Remember when I said it would get hard and we both wanted to quit? It got really hard! 

Around year four and five of the plan, it was like everything that could tempt us to give up, did. The air conditioner went out ($8,000.00). Then, I came home from work one day and the power company had contracted a tree specialist to remove trees around their poles. For us, that meant they were clear cutting our woods…and the list goes on.

Trees!?! I know, for some the trees would be insignificant, but for me, the trees are a big deal. One reason we bought our house was because of the privacy and our personal draw to nature. This happened with nine months left on our mortgage. I was so distraught I cried for days!  Anyway, we actually began looking for houses. Once we told our small group leader Ryan about our house search, he immediately recognized the enemy was at work. If not for Ryan being our accountability partner, we might have given up on the plan with only a few months to go. So thankful God led Ryan to intervene. 

Now to the bookstore. 

Five months to go on the mortgage. Nonprofit stuff is coming together, but I wanted to quit. I start to think people wouldn’t take us seriously. No one will need help, the economy is booming and our launch date would be the time when folks receive their income taxes returns. No one in our social group knows about our plan….can we even do it?  This is silly, who does this!? You would not believe the mental battle Austin and I experienced as we rounded the corner on this effort. 

Low and behold a pandemic unleashes across the world…and a few tornadoes hit our area. Isn’t God’s timing impeccable friends? I’m not saying those are good things, I am saying God’s plan for us to begin His work was unfolding right before our very eyes. I can’t help but be amazed about how God worked all these events and the timeline together, for His good.  

Giving is the Good Life – by Randy Alcorn

A book by Randy Alcorn called Giving is the Good Life was the piece that sealed the deal. I call it a WISDOM WEAPON. His words were written just for us it seemed; they are also meant for you! Straight from the Word of God Randy laid out what a good life really is…not from a worldly perspective, but from God’s point of view. This text helped us to realize our life had purpose beyond ourselves. We also learned that God actually has ownership of everything in our possession anyway. Material items cannot take us anywhere, so why do we invest so much into them? 

We are so thankful for the challenge set forth in Randy’s book to radically give (pg. 121). His words and his challenge moved us to do the Kingdom work we were being called to do.

On April 15, 2020 we paid off our home mortgage at the age of 36 (me) and (38) Austin; we also have two small children and I am working on my Doctorate in education. We began The Paid in Full Project, our giving ministry, on that very day. 

By no means are we rich. I actually work in a public school; my husband is a computer engineer. However, by acting on what God led us to do, our Heavenly father is providing resources to complete His work.  

We are thankful to our Lord and Savior, but also to Randy as His words that inspired us to hang on and be faithful. We also know that God, in his mighty way, will grow every dollar to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine possible.

Don’t forget to add WISDOM WEAPONS to your bag of tricks. They may come in the form of a book, people like Ryan, or from sheer determination. No matter what motivates you, just know these WISDOM WEAPONS are the key to completing your greatest accomplishments!

Paying It Forward,

Sherrie Brookie

www.thepaidinfullproject.com

Training Your Tongue: Tips for Targeting the Truth with Tact

Y’all. The mouth is wicked.

My mouth is wicked!

I say things to people sometimes and use the excuse that my actions are permissible because, hey, I’m just telling the truth! 

NOPE.

BLESS MY LITTLE HEART

Remember that old saying about the truth setting you free? Well, in this case, let’s replace that with: The truth, told in an uncontrolled manner, hurts people. 

Just because we think we know a few “facts” does not give us permission to state “facts” in the “raw.” 

This is NOT how you reach people!

Also, if you are not careful, your testimony and character could be at stake! The good news here is that there is another way. A way in which you can say things honestly, yet gently.

Let’s talk about what gentle means: 

kind, not severe, rough or violent

I always pride myself on being a person who looks at facts and data to make good  decisions. Heck, the door of my office has a sticker that says “I LOVE DATA.” 90% of my day at work consists of reviewing data to drive instruction. 

Facts point towards reality and I guess you could say that I am a realist? The verdict is still out on this although I know for sure I am a lover of learning. And this is a lesson to be learned my friend! 

Facts are great, for me

But, people thrive on facts, right? You know, not everyone does. 

Believe it or not, some people can’t face facts. This is precisely why it is important for information to be presented in a consumable way. Failure to communicate properly might result in terrible consequences. 

For a while I  would reaffirm the way I was speaking to others by reminding myself that these things were TRUTH. I told myself the lie that if I don’t say what I mean, I would be doing folks a disservice. Um, since when did I become THE distributor of truth? Oh, here is another good one: “people need to hear the truth.” 

When we were little we were rewarded for telling the truth! Right!?! Well…somebody owes me a whole chocolate factory!

I’m really good at facts (it’s my job, remember). Most of the time I have proof to back up what I dish out (dang, I should have been a lawyer). Anyway, after two different people shared with me that my “facts” hurt their feelings, I challenged myself to take a step back in order to observe my behavior.

Within a two month span I slowly began to realize my harsh facts hurt feelings. I mean, I didn’t scream or yell or any of that. I didn’t lie. What I was doing though, was ruining relationships…relationships that I worked hard to build. Relationships I cared about were on the line! I mean, I love, cherish, respect, and highly value the people I hurt! What was I doing?

The situation led me to pray. During my prayer time it was revealed to me that I was wrong. I prayed about both issues and concluded that I had to go and apologize to each of these people in person. I WAS WRONG. 

I have character traits that still need work!

Although I did go and make it right, it still happened. You can’t erase words once they have escaped your mouth. That is why it is important for us to train our tongue! 

I was so convicted. Well, wait. In all honesty I was mad, actually. Then I was convicted. After I had a chance to think about it all, I was only mad because my friends were absolutely right!

Have you had a situation come up recently where you were wrong and you knew it? Fixing this type of situation is not a very fun process. You might even shed a few tears, but in the end, it will be for the best! 

Oh, by the way, if you have not made your situation right, what are you waiting for?

Reflection:

I was not as “in the clear” as I kept telling myself…and looking in the mirror is no fun.

The process of identifying wicked ways is not an easy process! I know God is revealing to me the character flaws I have, which will eventually transform me to become more like Him. For that, I am thankful! I want to be like Him more than anything, so I am so happy the Spirit is working on me.

Do you want to be more like Him? It might be time to think about training your tongue! Here is a quick process for righting your wrongs:

What does the Bible say?

A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 NLT

Action Steps:

STEP 1: PRAY

Pray about every situation and be sure to go and make things right. Do this sooner rather than later! 


Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for pointing out the things in my character that I need to work on. Reveal to me the things I need to change in order to be just like You. Help me to make things right when I mess up, and give me the courage to apologize in order to restore my relationships with the people I care about. 

STEP 2: REFLECT

 What could you have done differently? How could you have said what you needed to say in a gentle way?  Do you even need to say anything at all? Sometimes in the heat of the moment we say and do things that come out way worse than we intend. I urge you to think things through. 

STEP 3: PLAN

Do not walk into a firing hole! Set yourself up for success in this endeavor. Plan out your thoughts and decide how you want to rectify your wrong. This should go without saying, but you need to include the words “I am so sorry” in your plan. Apologize. Seems elementary right? Trust me, acknowledging you have made a mistake can go a long way.

STEP 4: ACT

Go do the right thing. If it is appropriate, hug the person and maybe give a peace offering…I like to give chocolate. In this case I even gave my friends a handwritten note that explained to them how much they meant to me which was in addition to a personal apology.

What are you waiting for? Ask God to show you your heart and to refine it daily in order to make you more like Him. I can’t promise you that things will work out in your favor, but I do know that you will leave with peace, and that my friends, is priceless.

Paying it Forward,

Sherrie

Ditch the Drinks and Save $1,000+ Per Year!

A thousand dollars?

Yep! A thousand dollars …but maybe more depending on a few things.

Answer these questions for me:

  1. How often do you and your family go out to eat per week?
  2. What do you order to drink?

If you said anything other than water, you are wasting your money!

I am not talking about times when you are going out for a special occasion or celebration. I am talking about your typical Tuesday night at the Chick-fil-A or Zaxby’s.

(Bless your heart if you don’t have a Chick-Fil-A or Zaxby’s in your area). 

Y’all I have one bad habit. Just one. Other than that I am perfect. 

I LOVE me some soda! I have recently weaned myself down to one per day and plan on dropping it completely. However, I am notorious for hitting up a drive-thru just for a big gulp…that was until I realized how much it adds up!

Let’s do some math, shall we?

I am going to use my family as an example. We are a family of four and typically go out for food twice per week. This might mean breakfast on Saturday morning and dinner one night per week because we are off with the kids while they play sports. 

4 people X 2 restaurants per week = 8 drinks per week

8 drinks per week X an average of $2.50 per drink = $20.00 in drinks per week (this is a low estimate by the way!)

Now let’s multiply our weekly $20.00 X the 52 weeks in the year

Drum Roll………………it comes out to $1040.00!

Not only is this practice good for your wallet, but it’s good for you waistline as well!

I love a win-win-win! The times where my wallet, my waistline, and my overall health benefit, I consider myself blessed.

I also want you to remember my motto when trying to make this switch. BE FLEXIBLE. 

Maybe you like your drinks at restaurants. I am here to tell you that’s okay. How about you order water every other time? You will still wind up saving over $500 per year. I get that life is too short to limit yourself all the time, I just want to challenge you to live the best life you can live. 

For me, living a debt free life is the best life I can live. Making small changes like this allowed me to have my house paid off in by mid 30’s and before my first child finished kindergarten. So, give it a try? I would even go so far as to journal about it for the first few months just so you can see the progress you make.

When I made this small switch I began tracking the savings on my phone and could not believe how suckered I was into buying one of the most marked up items in the restaurant biz! 

Over time, I started seeing savings in the hundreds, and I knew I had made the switch forever.

Get that snowball rolling y’all!

What do you do to keep restaurant rates down?

Paying it Forward,

Sherrie 

Fighting Over Finances: 3 Ideas to CALM the CHAOS

Do you and your spouse have fights over finances?

Well, my husband and I don’t! 

NOT. EVEN. KIDDING. 

Part of the reason why we don’t fight is because we are on the same page about financial goals (to the point where he has created a monster) but we also have some non-traditional ways of doing things. 

  1. Get Three Accounts

At the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I participated in marriage counseling. 

This counseling can look many different ways, but ours was led by the pastor of our church at the time and one of the sessions was about the “F” word. Yep, you guessed it…FINANCES.

He had some great ideas, but the idea that has had the most significant impact for us has been the suggestion to open three separate bank accounts. Here is how it looks for us:

The Main Account

The Austin Account

The Sherrie Account

Every payday ALL of our money goes into one account: THE MAIN

From the “main” account every single dime is slated for something. Even if it means just adding a dollar amount to the line item called “extra,” that money is allocated.

Austin has a template that he uses to plug in all our our expenses.

2. Budget A Monthly Allowance

On a monthly basis, Austin and I are awarded allowances from our income. Now, we ain’t talking the big bucks here by any means; it’s not even 10% of our paychecks! It is a very low amount, but we can live with it and it’s enough to say we rewarded ourselves for working so hard. 

This is where discipline comes into play though. You can’t go over your allotted amount! If you know a big expense is coming up, you must save the previous month (or months in some cases). 

The best part about this idea is I don’t have to answer for why I went to the QuickTrip after work just to use my debit card on a $0.79 gigantic soda …just so I can feel the bubbles on my tongue. 

Austin doesn’t have to explain to me why he purchased 2-3 songs from iTunes every week or why he continues to purchase Clemson Tiger paraphernalia on the daily. 

You know why …because it doesn’t matter. If items are within his allowable limit, I say buy it all day long!

This practice gives us FREEDOM. 

I speak for myself here, but I love the fact that I get to decide how I use my nickels and dimes without having to answer for every decision I make. That can be exhausting! 

No bickering about who spent what or how much was spent when you do it this way! Save the penny pinching for the household budget. This is your little cut! 

Your allowance may be $20 per month, or it could be one whole paycheck. Either way, this plan works for every scenario. Trust me, your marriage will improve when it comes to finances!

3. Have Budget “Meetings”

Look, you both need to be in the know here. Really, you need to be on the same page if at all possible when it comes to the inner workings of your household budget. There is no way around the issue.

You are both stakeholders in your home.

Look at it this way; businesses have budget meetings and many times they attribute that to their success. Is your household not sort of like a business? You have to purchase materials and supplies. You have incoming and outgoing expenses. You sometimes have employees to pay (maybe a child’s allowance). Why not make time to sit down and discuss where you used to be, where you are now, and where you want to go? 

Plan for the future of your “business.”

In saying all of that, I am going to say this: keep EVERYTHING flexible. Plan how often you meet, but change it up if it is not working or is not often enough. Maybe you are meeting too much and it is causing anxiety. BE FLEXIBLE. 

Set a certain amount of money aside for allowances and stick to it! Once it is gone it’s gone. If I spend all of my allowance on shoes and clothes, I will not be able to make it to that paint night with my group of homegirls. 

In our case we have not given ourselves a “raise” in 11 years because we wanted to reach financial goals more than we wanted to go out and buy stuff. E L E V E N years y’all. 11. And I kid you not over that eleven years I received over $22,000 in raises alone and we stuck to our allowance budget. BUT I DIDN’T DIE DID I !?! (insert laugh cry emoji)

Finally, in 2017 I got a new job and needed more professional clothing so we did bump my budget up a little, but it wasn’t significant AT ALL.  BE FLEXIBLE.

In conclusion, I urge you to focus on future goals. 

A tool that Austin and I use is sticker charts. Yes, I know it seems a little silly but what a motivational tool it can be! I read a study long ago about how the majority of Americans were visual learners; some with an average 8th or 9th grade education. It made sense to me. Grocery store ads: cater to the visual, Pinterest: caters to the visual. Television ads: cater to the visual. You get my point! When you put that sticker on your chart every month, you are seeing progress. Progress feels good. But accomplishing goals…that feels amazing! 

Could your marriage use a boost in the budget department? 

Let me know how you keep the chaos under control in your marriage.

Paying It Forward,

Sherrie