The Marriage Caculator

I struggled with Algebra in high school. I am not alone. Many have confessed their muddled minds wrestled with parenthesis and fractions. But most of us don’t realize our bad math in marriage.

Marriage is a combination of events, movements and decisions. Any couple going through your present experience may feel the same way you do. Life has a way of subtracting from your marriage. Subtracting your time, subtracting your finances, subtracting your date nights, subtracting your patience and subtracting even from your love.

Continue in this path of bad math and you will come to the balance of zero. Usually people come to conclusion that “something is wrong” when they recognize they have subtracted until “not much is left.” Busy-ness is the divider and subtract-er. We take something out of our marriage every time we say to our spouse, “I am too busy to ….”

Pull out your marriage calculator and if you keep seeing zeros you might want to begin investing into your relationship. If you continue to withdrawal from your checkbook you will shortly be notified of an arrears or deficit. Your overage can result in bank fees and ultimately a closed checking account.

Marriage is much the same way when two people, very much in love, begin to subtract from their marriage until there is nothing left. But marriage is much less getting as it is giving. I can hear the drain sucking out the last bit of love from marriages who haven’t learned the secret of marriage investments.

Making careful and continual deposits in your marriage will give you many years of happiness and contentment. Here are a few tips on investing into your marriage.

Having a favorite dessert fixed for dinner tonight

Roses to just say, “I love you.”

A call or text in the middle of a busy work day to let your spouse know you are thinking of them

Taking a long lunch break and having dinner together

Planning an overnighter for just the two of you

Cooking breakfast for your spouse on a Saturday morning

Taking a long walk

Going on a real date

Begin to invest in your marriage today and you will have more to enjoy later. Invest a little everyday and the compound interest will grow into a long-lasting, lovely marriage.

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FREE! Get it now – FREE!

FREE – the catchy phrase grabbing momentum and a mountainous response from a crowd of consumers battling with the economic struggles of their work week. More week than money is the common jargon of the guy who works harder and makes less. Coupons, sales, specials, discounts arrest the savvy shopper but none latch on to your soul like FREE. Feeling Really Extra Extravagant. Even when it doesn’t make sense “buy two entrees and two drinks and get a free desert” but I would have eaten somewhere else and purchased two entrees and two deserts for less had I just watched my spending instead of gazing at FREE.

But some of the best things in life are free. Think about it – the things I enjoy most in life are the free things that are all around me.

Today. Today the sun came up just for you, the beautiful soft wispy air you breath, the frittering clouds, the majestic mountains and gorgeous sunsets. All are free – so why not enjoy them today. Free!

Family. I know it comes with a price but still you weren’t given a choice as to what family you wanted – you were born into this family by your birth. Hugging, family dinners, coming together over the holidays, sharing family pictures. Free!

Prayer. To breath a prayer in the midst of joy or sorrow is yours today. The Bible says, “Freely you have received.”  Lifting your soul upward, lifting your eyes to the creator, singing a song of worship to the Almighty are free for you to enjoy. Even the prophets chained in a dingy dungeon cannot be confined from the presence of a holy God. Free!

There are probably many more free gifts in life, so go ahead and name a few right now.

My Favorite Places to Drink Coffee

Coffee is the spice of life. Not just for mornings anymore but from afternoon, to after dinner, coffee has been and continues to be the drink of choice. The aroma, a little cream and a friend and you have the makings of a wonderful morning. As I have always said, “A rainy day, a book and a cup of coffee go very well together.” Like vacation without the gas prices.

I have traveled to 35 states and 12 foreign countries and I would like to name three of my favorite coffee spots.

1. Close to home: Starbucks – Being a Gold Card member explains it but I like the coffee variety, Blonde Roast, Pikes Place and Breakfast Blend, tall, venti or grande, mocha or caramel, one shot espresso. The fact they are consistent and widely accessible when I travel makes it the perfect choice for a perfect cup of coffee. Plus, the Wifi and business setting allows me to get a little work done.

2. Atmosphere: Atmosphere places just as much a role in drinking coffee as the drink itself. I remember drinking coffee in a refurbished house located at the Cedar Lodge in Branson, Missouri on a Saturday afternoon, perched over the river. The sandwich has long left my memory but sitting on the patio overlooking Table Rock Lake on a beautiful Saturday afternoon with a cup of coffee in hand was a choice location. The coffee was good and the atmosphere great and has been a regular stop for my wife and I when in the Branson area.

3. Location: A unique location was why I ended up drinking an espresso and eating an amazing piece of pie at the Le Procope, named for owner Francesco Procopio in Paris, where Napoleon often drank his coffee, as well as, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The artsy appeal, architectural structure and nice hospitality made this unique spot the place to be. By the way, Napoleon liked his coffee sweetened and with milk.

Setting a Daily Task List

For many setting a daily task list means a hand scribbled to do list with a jumbled amount of small and huge jobs. But setting a daily task list is a creation of goals, tasks and a checklist for accomplishments. I use my Ipad reminder list because it sends me a reminder if there is a time schedule on the task. Let me share with you what I use, I want to explain four steps to creating a better and more fulfilling task list that will allow you to get more done and you will feel better about yourself by the end of the day.

Set your priorities first. Now I like to do my task list the night before. I usually  find what my priority or priorities are for the day or even the week. Setting my priorities gives me an opportunity to grade my list of tasks. Since I am writing a book I know this is a continual priority that keeps on the list every week.

Set five things you must accomplish by 10:30am. Usually this is my list of tasks that give me a start-up and a feeling of accomplishment early in the day. I don’t want to get too close to noon because events, appointments and luncheons can interfere. Writing my blog, creating a Tweet and posting on LinkedIn are the first tasks fo the day after devotions.

Set two lists of tasks. My weeklong task and my today tasks – I want to get my today tasks done at the start of the day and begin my weeklong tasks usually after lunch. However, when I have a month-long task (or longer) I will usually get up earlier in the morning.

Set  a celebration time. I treat myself to breakfast on Friday morning or an hour-long sitdown with a friend at Starbucks, This is my weekly fun time to celebrate my accomplishments throughout the week – it sure avoids burnout and helps relieve work load stress.

Five Steps to a Happy Marriage

We aren’t without our disagreements but with my wife and I having 34 years behind us we have picked up on a few tips along the way to make things a bit less stressful.  No body will say marriage is easy but we can say we can make it easier by following basic procedures of communication and relationships.

1. Hot buttons. You know what ticks her off , the words that escalate into a scene. Don’t compare, belittle or unjustly criticize by hitting the same hot button day after day. By avoiding the hot buttons we can eliminate 60% of the stress of marriage and 80% of the conflict. Find those hot buttons and stay away from them.

2. Forgive. The biggest word in marriage. Don’t hold on to the past arguments. Accept the forgiveness Christ has given you and forgive others easily. Life is too short to hold a grudge. Honestly and sincerely forgive. Steve and Rachel (not their real names) were both cheating on each other but after a sincere and honest prayer of repentance they both forgave each other and moved on in their marriage – it has now been three years of reconciliation. It hasn’t always been easy for them but they are making it work.

3. Invest. This is one of the biggest words in marriage. Invest in your marriage. Meet her for lunch during her work day. Take her on a date. Go on a weekend vacation. Go shopping together. Spend time together. Women equal time spent with her as a love gift. A wife who complements her husband will keep him for a long time.

4. Laugh. Having fun in a marriage is one of the best cures for the anxieties of life. The Bible says, A merry heart does good like a medicine. Live a little light-hearted and don’t take you self too serious.

5. Pray. Praying together will melt differences and keep your heart soft. Pray often together and for each other.

Four Financial Changes You Must Make Now

With taxes due April 15th I thought you might enjoy a little financial insight.

I don’t even think I am close to being a financial guru or a Dave Ramsey Jr. but there are four financial choices my wife and I have made throughout our life. This should not be construed as legal advice but these are extremely important choices totally changing your financial outcome in three years or less.

Refinance your home: This is huge. Homebuyers paid up to 7% in 2004 and now interest rates are below 5% – the new HARP loan offers a valuation of your home oftentimes beating the deflation of your home’s value. Taking the time to do this may decrease your payment and the years owed on your mortgage.

Freeze your credit card: Your month to month paid out will decrease and your feeling of being out of debt is exhilarating.  Put your credit card in a glass of water – put it in the freezer – and you won’t be tempted to use it again.

Pay your small bills off: Get rid of some nagging bills that ask for $20 a month then start paying off your larger debts. This will escalate into a debt free life.

Start saving: putting back just $10 a week can grow into $520 a year.

IPAD3 – My Favorite Free Apps

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Standing in line at Wal-Mart at 12:00 at night waiting for the new IPad to come out last Friday wasn’t exactly a last-minute decision. When the IPad1 came out I was skeptical that i would use a tablet over my laptop however, when the IPad2 came out i was somewhat inquisitive. Apps were being churned out at a paid pace and my creative juices began to flow each time I saw one but with inner strength and self-discipline (ha) and waiting for the extra cash, I waited anxiously for the IPad3, and I am so glad I did. Its retina display, fast processor and 4G abilities caused me to purchase my IPad3 at 12:08 am on the first day of its debut.

But for me, the apps make the tablet. Its functionality is only as powerful as the apps available for it. I read up on them, studied them and downloaded My Favorite FREE apps, (later I may purchase a few apps), Most of these work on my IPhone as well as my IPad. I was looking for productivity, research and business, with that in mind – here are my Favorite Free Apps.

Microsoft OneNote – syncs with your home computer, work computer, laptop or IPhone. Capture articles, pictures, create notebooks, research pages, keep track of receipts. You will have to purchase OneNote for your home/work computer but the app is free. If you want a program Free for the desktop and IPad choose Evernote.

HootSuite – keep all your social networking in one place. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Linkedin, Just sign in and view your social network. Convenient, quick and it is free.

G Docs – I keep all my documents in Google Docs then download them when i need them. Google documents can be found on your work/home computer by going to the Google page and clicking more. Google Documents is free and the app is free.

Smartr Contacts – keeps all your contacts from Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. and your address book all together with pictures, information and more. Powerful app and handy.

YouVersion – This is my favorite Bible app but you must be on the internet to use it. It has several Bible translations, you can join an online Bible study and share favorite verses to Facebook. If you choose not to go with an online Bible – try Logos Bible App. I have it downloaded and have used it on several occasions.

TripIt – this amazing app keeps all my travel information in one place – even pulls in emails containing travel details. If you fly and stay in motels this is one app you don’t want to be without

Urbanspoon – again, if you travel, this will be a life saver. This will find restaurants closer to you, give directions, prices, menus and reviews.

Zite – my personal magazine. I choose the content and topics.

Trippy- Shares my trip plans with family and selected friends to let them know I am in the area.

 Ifly – shows me the airport terminals, restaurants, bathrooms, gates, and all the information I need to navigate through an airport that may be new to me or one I haven’t been in for some time.

We Have This Treasure

Treasure hunters abound in Casino’s, “scratch to see if you have won” contests, lotteries and a myriad of scams. If money would solve the world’s problems then why aren’t rich people problem free?

The greatest treasure you have is the one buried down deep in your soul that God birthed within you as a child. This was the prophet Jeremiah’s proclamation in Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah received his purpose and anointing as a prophet while he was yet in his mother’s womb.

God put within you, when you were conceived, your purpose and calling. Throughout life you are on a treasure hunt to discover and allow this God birthed giftwithin you to flourish. Sometimes making money gets in the way, sometimes busyness gets in the way, and sometimes life gets in the way. 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

True happiness and joyful living is fleshing out the God ordained purpose within in. “Living the dream” is an often used expression used to describe the happy life and you can find it with these three treasure hunting secrets.

1.       Take some time in private to discover your most hidden desire. What would you do for God right now if you knew you would not fail? What lies within you that makes you most happy? Marriage, even though you may have the best marriage, cannot fulfill this deep desire within your heart. It must be found and it can only be found if you explore it.

2.       Write it down and display it in a prominent location where you see it every day. Dreams need to be remembered. A picture, a short paragraph describing your life mission or a scripture can be the “ump” you need to make it come alive, again.

3.       Pray about it! Prayer is the key to having doors open and miracles performed. Ask God to bring the anointing upon your life for the gift to bear fruit.

4.       Take small steps in the direction of your dream. Before my first mission trip, I opened a checking account and deposited $75, within one day it multiplied, until one year later I went on a mission’s trip, the funds coming out of an account started with a $75 deposit.

Entering into the Time Zone

When I was a young preteen the peak interest of the news was putting a man on the moon. Science fiction was the top seller for years. Super heroes and comic book interest peaked and outer space dramas were produced in rapid session. One TV program was Outer Space, with a mixed up crew spiced with humor and drama scenes. One spellbinding question remained in fiction, movies, TV programs and comic books, “Is there the possibility of Time Travel?” Many spinoffs were developed and became a talked about topic of interest.

Today men still believe in the time zone – the ability to make up all those years of procrastination only to think they will catch up later in some magical retreat. I can’t count the times I have heard people say, “I started on a book but….” To dream – to try – to fail is not a tragedy but to dream – to NOT try, and to fail; is a tragedy. We can’t go back and recreate life but we can begin to live the dream  today, to focus on what is important today and to write the book you have always wanted to write.

Fear, lack of focus, time restraints, undisciplined, etc have always been the most common excuses but rising early, using the lunch hour, giving up an hour of TV, or honestly facing your challenges are the actions that will stop the time zone and resurrect the dream within you. Let’s start today.

A European Train Ride

Writing a book is similar to riding a train.

In Zürich, Switzerland I boarded a passenger train for a quick ride to Luxembourg. The RailPass enabled me to ride first class to any destination in Europe within a ten-day time frame, so this was the first but certainly not the last. I took pictures out the window, drank a Coke and even read some in my private cabin.

Presently I wish I was there, instead, I am finishing up the last few chapters of my newest, soon to be published book by Westbow Publications. In several ways it is similar to my train ride.

1. Train rides and writing start out slowly but then gains speed only to slow again as the traveler reaches his destination.

2. The passenger can concentrate on the interior of the train or look outside the window, Sometimes both are necessary in writing, looking within the content but looking without for expression and insight.

3. On a train: the passenger can talk to the other passengers, read, write in their journal, take pictures, sleep or go to the refreshment car. In writing the author can  walk, get a drink, go outside, jog, or read research articles to begin the creative process.

4. The train gets the traveler from one location to another destination; writing takes the author from one creative zone to the next creative zone.

5. Just as there is a beginning that captures the emotions there is a final destination that captures the soul.

6. To begin; you must get on the train..